Vathanak the nurse, Cambodia
Former sponsored child Vathanak always dreamed of a career in medicine – a dream that his parents and his sponsor encouraged him to pursue. Now 23 years old, Vathanak has graduated from university in Phnomh Penh to work as a nurse – and he uses his skills to conduct health checks for people in his community. Over the years, he's seen the incredible change that sponsors like his own helped to create by supporting World Vision’s work.
"I got health check-ups when World Vision was introduced to my community. Villagers learned a lot about hygiene and received healthcare improvements," says Vathanak. "In a community where we used to have no proper healthcare system, schools with broken building and many dangers along the way to school, now many things are better. World Vision provided us with toilets, wells, micro-business knowledge, responded to natural disaster and brought village cleaning programs to our communities. During my childhood the healthcare system was so poor in my community, only World Vision was working closely with the local people," says Vathanak.
Vathanak is grateful for the relationship he developed with his sponsor over the years and for the ways she encouraged him.
"I have wondered why a person that never knew me, would spend time and money to support a kid like me," says Vathanak. "My sponsor always responded to my letters, wrote great encouraging words. Whenever I received a letter from her I was so excited and shared it with my mum, dad and friends. Also, she told me 'study hard and play hard'. I want tell her that my dream become true now," adds Vathanak.
Devika the public official, Sri Lanka
As the Grama Niladhari in her village in Sri Lanka, 26-year-old former sponsored child Devika holds an important role. The Grama Niladhari is a public official representing the central government, assigned to perform administrative duties in the village.
Along with her younger siblings, Devika was sponsored through World Vision from age 12. Her father is a farmer and part-time mason, so money was tight. Sponsorship was a huge support and helped her parents ensure their children got a good education. Devika went on to study economics at university, a fact that is of immense pride to her parents. Her sister too is hoping to start a degree soon, while her brother wants to be an engineer.
An active participant in the World Vision-established children's club, Devika explains that the organisation’s capacity-building programs formed her leadership skills. "Being in the children's club really helped develop my personality. What I learned then helps me so much today,” she says, beaming. "In my role as Grama Niladhari, I have to take the lead and serve the people."
"I truly feel that it's because of World Vision that I’ve come this far in life," she says. "All my educational needs were met. My family and I faced many hardships, but World Vision helped us so much. It's their faith and my parents' faith in me that paved the way for any success I may have achieved."
Devika has a very special message for her sponsor: "I want to thank my sponsor for everything she's done for me. I'd love to meet her and thank her personally for sponsoring me for so long. I want to get to know this wonderful person, who was so kind to a girl like me half a world away."
Mazuba the farmer, Zambia
When former sponsored child Mazuba was four, his family received a form of special support through sponsorship. Mazuba used it to purchase a cow, which he then turned into 20 cows. For years he has been buying, breeding and selling cattle to pay for school and care for his family. He now has five cows left and is waiting for them to reproduce so he can continue his education.
Mazuba remembers how, as a young child, he would exchange letters with his sponsor. He talked about drawing pictures of cows. He explained that in his community, having cattle means you are established, and provides a way to barter and care for your family. As a boy, he watched other children whose job it was to herd and lead cattle, and he had longed to have cattle of his own. When the gift from his sponsor arrived, he recalls making the decision to buy the cow and wanting to secure his future. It was important to Mazuba that we understood that the cow was more than just a gift to him — it had helped his entire family.
Last year Mazuba was married, and, using money from the sale of his cattle, started building a brick home just beyond his mother’s house. He is excited that, thanks to the opportunity his sponsor provided and his own enterprise, now he will be able to provide for his new wife and pass on a legacy to his future family.
Felisberto the teacher, Mozambique
His name is Felisberto, but locally he’s known as Mr Sitoe, one of the most popular teachers at the primary school in his community. When he was younger, Felisberto was a sponsored child who benefited from the first work of World Vision in his community. Becoming a teacher was a wish that World Vision helped Felisberto to pursue — he won a scholarship to study and returned to give his contribution through education to his community.
Felisberto became a teacher in 2010, when he finished grade 10 and trained for a year in an intensive teacher’s course. Teachers in Mozambique are scarce — to the extent that the ratio of teacher to students is one to 60 in a classroom. In response to this issue, the government has created fast-track teaching programs like the course Felisberto attended.
Mr Sitoe is popular because of his friendly style when he teaches. He works at the first conventional school – one made with bricks and having a proper roof — in his community, an area where World Vision started to operate in 2000.
“I love our teacher because it’s clear when he is explaining something, I learn many things with him,” says nine-year-old Eldenencia, one of Mr Sitoe’s pupils.
“I learned from my teacher that we must respect others,” says 11-year-old Leovigildo.
After five years of teaching, Felisberto loves his job. Now 25 years old, he still studies each afternoon as a student at grade 11 in the same district, hoping to upgrade his degree in the future and become an even better teacher for his students.
Gandulam the law graduate, Mongolia
After 14 years of sponsorship, 22-year-old Gandulam has graduated from one of the best law schools in Mongolia.
"Since I was a young girl, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer. I always admired prosecutors in the movies!" Gandulam says. Now with a Bachelor's degree, she is equipped with tools and skills to reach her dream of fighting for justice.
Gandulam's path to university graduation was not an easy one. Her mother and father only earned a seasonal income that was barely enough to support their family of six – let alone pay the university's expensive tuition fees. Thanks to World Vision's scholarship program, Gandulam was able to continue her education. She is the first of her family to have studied and graduated from university.
"My family, relatives and sisters and brothers of World Vision have all believed in me, motivated me. That's why I tried my best not to disappoint them, and graduate from my university successfully. Now that I have a degree, I am happy that I can finally help my mother and father," shared Gandulam.
"I am so happy that I was given the chance to study law for four years, and now I am graduating! I am really grateful for World Vision and my sponsor, Sylvia! Now I will work hard towards passing bar examination, and become a prosecutor in the future, that's my goal."