Former sponsored child returns to empower her community

Savitri returned as an adult to the village where she grew up, with the goal of giving children there the same opportunities she got as a child sponsored through World Vision.

Photos and story Kit Shangpliang. Edited by Elisa Casey, World Vision U.S.
Published August 19, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

The village of Rongphar, in northeast India, isn’t where a young, college-educated person would often choose to live. Located in one of the least developed districts of the country, Rongphar has only one way in and out — a dusty, bumpy track, passable only by SUV.

Yet here is Savitri, now 30. After finishing her college degree, she returned to support the community where she was once a sponsored child through World Vision.

Savitri’s role

Through partnering with a local church, Savitri has become a community worker, visiting families throughout the district to determine their needs and the best ways to help. Her emphasis is providing counseling for women and children.

“Savitri’s role in catering to the specific needs of women and winning their trust is crucial, because women in our social context are reluctant to share their problems with men,” says Pichong, a village leader.

‘I want my community to be aware’

Savitri’s dream is to see every child in her village receive a quality education and for every family take part in the economic boom that, so far, has been limited to India’s affluent cities.

“Besides participating in village development, I want my community to be aware, morally and spiritually,” she says.

Savitri’s work complements World Vision’s project in the area, which provides support for schools, access to health care, and opportunities for generating income. Some of this community development work started when Savitri, herself, was a sponsored child.

Words of encouragement

Savitri visits homes in her village, determining needs and providing counseling.Beginning when she was 9 years old, sponsorship helped Savitri attend school and provide for her family’s basic needs. But in time, she came to value the communication with her sponsor even more. Savitri found comfort and encouragement in letters from her sponsor.

“All letters would reach our school caretaker, who would then give them to us. I remember how eager I would get, waiting to open and read those letters,” Savitri says. “And I remember I would feel so happy.”

Knowing someone cares

Savitri studied hard, completed high school, and attended college in Dimapur, more than 180 miles from her village. Savitri’s father, Sonsingh, sees a vast difference before and after World Vision’s intervention in Rongphar. Previously, he says, parents did not place much importance on their children’s education.

“But knowing that a sponsor who lives far away cares for their children — [that] helped them realize they should put more effort to care for their young ones,” explains Sonsingh.

As Savitri helps guide children in her village, she continues her sponsor’s legacy.

“As I understand it now,” she says, “the encouraging words of my sponsor pushed me to become the person that I am now.”

Two ways you can help

Thank God for the encouragement that Savitri received from her sponsor, and that she was able to go on to college. Pray for the community where Savitri works, and that, alongside World Vision, she would be able to help children receive access to quality education and opportunities.

Sponsor a child today. Like Savitri’s sponsors, your encouragement and support will help provide a child and his or her community with assets like education opportunities, improved nutrition, clean water, shelter, medical care, and more.