Richa likes meeting up with friends in the park to play games and chat. Shivangi loves to dance with her friends. Ritu makes beaded jewelry.
Just like teenagers in the U.S., these three friends giggle and laugh often, wear t-shirts sporting furious fowl, go to school and dream of a bright future.
They live in Allahabad, India, a bustling city at the meeting point of India’s largest rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati Rivers.
Locals and tourists weave among cars and bikes, while modern construction towers over buildings from the 16th century. The economy is growing and many respected universities call Allahabad home.
And yet, with all the growth and promise of a big city, going to school regularly used to be a struggle for the three friends.
They come from homes with unsteady incomes. Paying school fees came second to feeding the family.
Richa, Shivangi and Ritu can see the promise of modern India just around the corner. They know the only way to reach that world is through education.
That’s where CFCA comes in.
The girls and their families make use of their sponsorship benefits to pay school fees and participate in workshops and community activities. It was through CFCA that the three girls met and became friends.
“I travel to school on a bicycle,” 15-year-old Richa said. “I will be happy to go and study at a renowned university someday.”
Richa knows that every time she pedals her bicycle she is closer to breaking through the poverty holding her family back.
Like her friend Shivangi, Richa loves to dance. Both girls, along with other sponsored kids, practice their skills and find joy in expressing themselves. They even get the chance to perform at CFCA events, like Christmas parties or other gatherings.
When Shivangi dances, her spirit flies.
“I can dance all day,” the 13-year-old said. “I love dancing with my friends to new and old records.”
A bit shy, 12-year-old Ritu skipped the chance to dance on stage. Instead, she took advantage of an opportunity to learn another skill.
“Jewelry making was taught to me at a youth camp by CFCA,” she said. “Since then I have been making different kinds of jewelry designs.”
With her skill and precision, Ritu transformed a handful of beads into beautiful jewelry. She sells her creations to help her family.
Richa, Shivangi and Ritu know what it takes to break through poverty. They have gained hope and confidence that it can be done.
And they don’t want it to stop with them.
Shivangi and Ritu dream of becoming engineers, and using their education and talents to help others.
Shivangi dreams of building hospitals in rural villages and homes for the homeless.
“I also dream of my nation to be poverty free,” she said.
Ritu sees how hard her father works, and it has inspired her to work hard to become an engineer.
“I can build and develop hospitals and schools for the poor,” she said.
Richa has a different goal.
“My aim is to become a doctor,” she said. “I will serve all the people and strive to be a genuine doctor. I want to provide medical service to the aging members of society.”
These three friends dream of a better future, not just for themselves and their families, but for their country.
They are learning what they need to enter that world just around the corner, and they plan on taking others with them.