REAL (Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives) helps girls and young women stay in school by providing them with school fees and mentor-ships to help them break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families and, possibly, to save their lives. In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in five girls makes it to secondary school; too often girls are forced to leave school to marry at 14 or 15—as a result, the leading cause of mortality for adolescent girls in the developing world is childbirth. (The Girl Effect Factsheet,

REAL focuses on educating girls, but the name points to the true effect of educating women—the enrichment of African lives. REAL founder Tsehai Wodajo says,“Girls, families, villages, countries are changed when girls are educated.” Ten years of this carefully structured program have proven this to be true. The 15 girls in each village meet regularly as a group with a mentor; they form study groups, have speakers, take field trips, and open a small bank account with the 65 birr (US$3.45) they receive from REAL. Currently over a hundred girls are supported by REAL. There are 25 REAL graduates now at the university level, pursuing degrees in medicine, engineering, and teaching and of the 19 graduates from technical colleges, 17 already have jobs in their field and are giving back to their communities.

REAL proves again the truth of Margaret Mead’s famous statement: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That’s what REAL is doing. Learn more at