Many years ago, an American family made a decision to sponsor a child named Jose Nicolas Ramirez.
At the time, all that family knew about Jose (nicknamed Jacobo) was what World Vision had printed on his sponsorship folder, a picture, a name and age, and a country in which he lived, the Dominican Republic.
Choosing to sponsor a child from the DR probably didn’t change that family’s life all that much. Sure, it may have been a sacrifice. And yes, it may have even sparked dinner time conversations about poverty or helping other people. But chances are, it likely didn’t change the course of their lives, not like it affected Jacobo.
Though Jacobo was, at the time, much too young to fully grasp the impact of becoming a sponsor child with World Vision, he does remember feeling happy mostly because members of his family were happy.
As sponsor child, Jacobo became fully engaged in all that his local World Vision program offered—from anti-bullying campaigns and education workshops to sex-education programs and community-wide holiday celebrations—Jacobo’s journey began to change, his life path began filling up bigger and more exciting opportunities.
As a teenager, Jacobo started volunteering as a youth promoter for a community health and wellness program, a World Vision-sponsored initiative in his community. Over time, while advocating healthy life choices to his peers, Jacobo’s interest in health care, medicine, and helping people. His experiences as a youth wellness promoter led him to begin volunteering at a World Vision-sponsored wellness clinic, a health program that treated and cared for orphans who were HIV positive. Jacobo’s love, concern, and desire to help people flourished here. Rather than settling down after high school, Jacobo decided that he wanted to be a medical doctor.
World Vision helped Jacobo pay for tuition. Moreover, World Vision not only helped pay for his education and provided him with extra money for living expenses, World Vision also purchased the med student a motorbike so he could commute back and forth to school.
Last month, I visited Jacobo’s hometown, Batey Altagracia, Dominican Republic. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, I was photographing a father and his beautiful baby when the familiar roar of a motorbike approaching sends both of their heads turning toward the noise. Through my lens, I saw the father’s face showcase faint but very real relief upon realizing who it was riding that bike.
It was 3:15 p.m., and Jose Nicolas Ramirez, the birth name of that onetime World Vision sponsor child, had just finished a full-day’s work at one of the government’s hospitals.
As he gets off his bike, I hear several people holler his name—“Dr. Jacobo!”
Jacobo is 29 now. And yes, he’s a physician—Doctor Jacobo. He was offered some residency assignments at the major hospitals in Santo Domingo, where he studied. But he turned them all down so he could help people who couldn’t afford to come to the big city hospitals for treatment.
Though he’s wildly smiling and generously greeting members of his community, it’s also obvious that he’s warn out, exhausted by the day’s work, by the stories he encounters, the stories of people who came to him in hopes of finding healing.
Rather than going home to sleep, Dr. Jacobo has driven 45 minutes to his onetime hometown, where’s he’s met by more people, more stories, more seekers of healing. A small crowd gathers around the doctor as he walks a quarter mile toward a small pink and green building. He unlocks its doors and windows. People form a line at the door. And soon, one by one, Dr. Jacobo examines each person. He listens to every story. And to the best of his ability, he tries to offer the people of his town some hope, some healing.
And he doesn’t charge a dime. Three days a week, every single week, Dr. Jacobo donates several hours of his time.
And that’s not all—Dr. Jacobo is also a community leader, a vocal advocate for the people of his town, a voice who speaks up on behalf of the needs and demands of the people living in Batey Altagracia.
That’s the power of child sponsorship through World Vision. Jose is one child who’s story was forever changed, and now, because of his story, hundreds of people’s stories are being changed.
Change a kid’s life. Change a community’s life. Sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic.