When Yannely’s mother, Lidia, learned she was pregnant 23 years ago, her husband tried to convince her to have an abortion. When Lidia refused, he abandoned her and their unborn daughter.

As a single mother in the poor community of Villa Flores in southern Dominican Republic, it was difficult for Lidia to make ends meet and provide for her daughter.

As a single mother in the poor community of Villa Flores in southern Dominican Republic, it was difficult for Lidia to make ends meet and provide for her daughter.

Yannely recalls that often, they had only one meal a day — a green banana and a bowl of rice. And because they couldn’t always afford fuel to boil their water, they were forced to take the risk of consuming untreated water from the community tap

Thankfully, Lidia’s burden was eased when Yannely was registered in the local church-based Compassion program, where she was sponsored by a woman named Dorothy Schmitz.

Yannely calls Dorothy “the most influential person in my life.” Through their letters, their relationship grew, and Dorothy quickly became Yannely’s trusted mentor, always motivating her to have faith and hope in God.

Yannely dreamed of being a pediatrician, and she demonstrated the potential to achieve that dream.

When she was 12 years old, she was blessed to write to Dorothy that she had met the president of the Dominican Republic at a ceremony recognizing the country’s outstanding students. She recalls that when she extended her hand to shake his, he surprised her with a big hug and kiss on the cheek — something she had longed for but never received from her own father.

Yannely saved each one of Dorothy’s letters, drawing encouragement from her sponsor’s kind words. When Dorothy told Yannely “you will become a great doctor,” she believed it. Yannely says she carried her sponsor’s words in her heart, and they motivated her to continue pursuing her goals.

Though Yannely had the intelligence to become a doctor, she didn’t have the financial resources to attend medical school. When she applied to be part of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program, she was an obvious choice for this special program, which provides outstanding graduates of the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program the opportunity to attend college and receive targeted training in Christian leadership.

Currently in her fourth year of medical school, Yannely is already using her skills to help others. She volunteers her time as a tutor at a Compassion center, conducts free medical checkups for Compassion program alumni, and serves as a nurse in poor communities in the northern region of the country.

Perhaps the most rewarding result of her involvement in the Leadership Development Program has been the restoration of her relationship with her father. She learned about forgiveness through the program, and decided to take the courageous step of forgiving the father she had never known. Then she took one step further: She actually sought him out and met him face to face.

When they met, Yannely’s father could not hold back his tears from the guilt he felt for abandoning her and her mother. On that unforgettable day, between the tears and embraces, the relationship between this father and daughter was completely healed.

Planning to specialize in pediatric perinatology in the future, Yannely holds one of the highest academic standings in her university. Her ultimate goal is to start her own foundation to provide quality health care at a low cost for the poor.

There is no limit on the influence one sponsor can have on one child’s life. To learn more about sponsorship through Compassion International, click here.

Article from Sponsor E-News