A life transformed: From sponsored child to doctor in training

Niroma grew up in a rural Sri Lankan village where access to education was the exception, not the rule. But World Vision child sponsorship gave her the support she needed to continue her studies; and now, she’s about to become a doctor.

Story and photos by Hasanthi Jayamaha, World Vision Sri Lanka
Published August 12, 2013 at 01:00pm PDT

Dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope around her neck, Niroma stands near a bed at Anuradhapura Base Hospital in Sri Lanka, listening, consoling, and giving hope to a mother who is distressed about her little daughter’s condition.

“Don’t worry, she will be okay soon,” Niroma assures in a caring voice as she explains the girl’s condition.

“Sometimes patients or their loved ones won’t fully understand the condition even if we explain, but it is a must that we take time to listen and give hope,” Niroma says.

“It is difficult if you know that they have no chance of recovering, but you can still take time to give them strength for that day.”

Formative experiences

This compassionate young woman is in her final year at medical school and is now in residency at the Anuradhapura Base Hospital. She has assisted with operations, worked in different wards, and cared for a number of patients.

“One of my unforgettable experiences was when a young boy was brought to the hospital after an accident,” she recalls. “He was unconscious, and although the doctors gave him CPR for 40 minutes, they were unsuccessful. If the patient doesn’t respond within 40 minutes, he is declared dead,” she adds.

“We (medical students) began to take turns and give him CPR again. After an hour, he came back to life,” she explains. “I realized [in that moment] how much responsibility I have in my hands for another person’s life.”

Overcoming daunting odds

Perhaps what’s most remarkable about Niroma’s story is how far she has come. Growing up in a rural village in Sri Lanka was not easy.

“I always wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, but I knew it was difficult for my parents to support all three of us (Niroma and her sisters) to get through school,” she recalls.

“My parents always said that education is the only way to get out of poverty. So I wanted to study hard,” she adds, noting that many children in her village didn’t complete school.

“Sometimes, it was because parents didn’t know the value of education, and some had no choice because of poverty,” she says. “With World Vision coming to our village, things changed. I remember I was in grade 4 at that time.”

Niroma explains that World Vision’s sponsorship program helped every child in her community attend school, providing necessary supplies each year.

“We received study assistance classes, and we even had an English class and a computer class,” she remembers. “That is the only place where I learned English and computer, and it helped me a lot.”

Seeing Niroma’s persistence and hard work, World Vision offered her a scholarship for her higher education.

“My first stethoscope is a gift from World Vision,” says the medical student, smiling. Although she hasn’t decided on the field she wants to specialize in, she knows she wants to serve the rural communities.

“I come from a rural village, and I can understand their hardships better,” she says.

The sponsorship model

World Vision child sponsorship applies a holistic approach to fighting poverty, providing benefits both to an individual child and his or her entire family and community. World Vision team members meet with members of the community to determine the greatest needs — like food security, clean water, access to medical care and education, economic development, and more.

Over time, World Vision equips the community to become self-sufficient and able to meet its own challenges. The long-term goal is freedom from poverty, both for individuals and for the community as a whole. As their basic needs are met, children like Niroma have a chance to pursue their dreams and their God-given talents.

Read a blog post about World Vision’s approach to community development and how child sponsorship is the foundation.

Get involved

Thank God that Niroma has a chance to follow her dream of becoming a doctor. Pray that her work would be a blessing to many others in need.

Starting now: When you sponsor a child through World Vision, you’ll receive a six-month free subscription to Christianity Today as our way of saying thank you.

Sponsor a child in Sri Lanka or another country of your choice — and take advantage of this great offer. Your support can help a child in need grow up to be a healthy, productive adult. You’ll also have a unique opportunity to build a special relationship with him or her along the way.