Has sponsoring a child changed your life? Your family’s life? Your support transforms the life of a child’s, but what if it also impacted the lives of hundreds of people, for decades to come?
That’s what’s happening right now in the Dominican Republic! Meet Doctor Jacobo:
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 the way it affected Jacobo.
Though Jacobo was, at the time, much too young to fully grasp the impact of becoming a sponsored child with World Vision, he does remember feeling happy mostly because members of his family were happy.
As a sponsored child, Jacobo became fully engaged in all that his local World Vision program offered—from anti-bullying campaigns to education workshops to community-wide holiday celebrations—and Jacobo’s journey began to change, his life path began filling up with 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-supported initiative in his community. Over time, while advocating healthy life choices to his peers, Jacobo discovered an interest in health care, medicine, and helping people.
His experiences as a youth wellness promoter led him to begin volunteering at a World Vision-supported 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, they also purchased this medical student a motorbike so he could commute back and forth to school.
In April, I visited Jacobo’s hometown, Batey Altagracia, in the 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 see the father’s face showcase faint but very real relief upon realizing who it is riding that bike.
It’s 3:15 p.m., and Jose Nicolas Ramirez, the birth name of that onetime World Vision sponsored child, has 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 smiling and generously greeting members of his community, it’s also obvious that he’s worn 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.
After driving 45 minutes home, rather than going to sleep, Dr. Jacobo is 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 right here!
Meet our other Dominican Republic Bloggers and see what they wrote about the trip!
Daily Baez: "Beautiful giving | Bella bondad"
Melissa Bailey: "8 stories that fed my soul in the Dominican Republic"
Benjamin L. Corey: "We do it better when we do it together"
Elayna Fernandez: "A mother's story: Being positive about HIV"
Leanette Fernandez: "Education Makes a World of Difference"