Sanjana and Bheemamma are enrolled in a two-year tailoring course. They are learning how to sew pantaloons, the undergarments for an Indian outfit.

Not all is equal in the developing world. India presents unique challenges for our kids living with HIV. Sometimes we have to get creative to solve problems. It is important to understand that following a strict path from high school to college to the work force is not a viable option for everyone.

In India, the education system is based on scores. A certain score must be achieved to enter higher education. Many of our kids were never allowed to go to school before they came to be part of our family. Making up 8-to-10 years of education is sometimes just not possible, not only in terms of time but age. Making a 15-year-old student sit in a fifth-grade classroom is not a realistic solution.

For some of our kids, a vocational school is the perfect path forward. A vocational education is great way to empower our kids to build a stable adult life. We are teaching our young people how to communicate and negotiate, and the critical thinking they need to earn a living and successfully manage their independence. We have 4 young women in a 2-year tailoring program and 1 young man in an auto mechanic track. These courses will serve as the platform to learn a trade, find a job and start a career upon graduation.

For a few of our girls, entrepreneurship is the chosen path. We have 2 girls who are building their own business making masalas – traditional Indian spice mixes – from scratch being sold at local markets. We are working with the girls to create a business plan to expand sales and embarking on a line of soaps and skin scrubs, both made from scratch with organic ingredients.

Joythi and Kristu are making their own skin scrub bars made from organic ingredients they will sell to local markets as part of their company Affinity.

After an afternoon of brainstorming about values, goals, business models and how we wanted to create a brand, the kids voted. Our resident artist Yehashwani is helping create a logo and brand for the company which they have decided to call Affinity.

The road to dreams realized is not always easy to navigate – together we are creating a roadmap for each of our kids, unlocking the power of possibility in each of them to achieve their own dreams.

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