Former sponsored child Dwi Maria shares how World Vision's work in her community helped open doors for her future. Photo by Nick Ralph, World Vision
In her own words: Dwi Maria tells how her family, the “poorest among the poor” and marginalised as Christians in a community with religious tension, changed their destiny with the help of child sponsors.
Originally I am from East Java, Indonesia, from a small community in a poor area where education is not so much available. My father worked as a stone collector and in a sugar factory, while my mother worked for a textile company as a labourer. The family earned in total about 150,000 rupiah ($15) per month.
My family were the poorest among the poor in the community. To make things worse, we are Christian. There was a bit of tension between Christians and Muslims before World Vision came, and I was the only Christian in my class. It was a difficult period of time.
World Vision came to the community when I was six. I have one older sister and one younger brother, and the three of us were sponsored children with World Vision.
As a child, I did not realise how World Vision really impacted my life, until I grew up to a certain age and then – flashback! And I understood. I mean, in my community they had an education program for people who dropped out of school, like my neighbour, and a salon with lessons for older women. There were really bad houses before and so World Vision helped with renovating and building them. Provided clean water, where before people would have to walk two or three kilometres to get water. Those are the things I knew as a child.
But the turning point for my family came when World Vision recruited my mother as someone taking care of logistics. My mother was uneducated, she only graduated from elementary school, but through her work with World Vision she came to realise the importance of education. She went back through high school and then got a bachelor degree. When World Vision finished the project and were no longer working in the village, she became a teacher. My parents tried their best to send us all to school and university.
Easing the tension
One of the strengths World Vision has is that is doesn’t only help Christians. It is so embedded in the community, working with all kinds of people and all kinds of religious diversity.
In my community, people looked at this Christian organisation that had come to help us, to care about us, and it reduced the tension a lot. My parents sent me to a public school where I was the only Christian, and a lot of people, teachers even, were not happy about me being here. But then World Vision came and they did not only sponsor Christians, they sponsored everybody, the whole community. It brought a lot of benefit to us as Christians – they became more friendly.
The long-term impact of sponsorship and education
My sponsor was Australian. The letters I received were very encouraging, telling me that I am important. It brought me hope and dreams that there was something out there, something bigger. What the sponsor said in the card, it shaped me.
When my sister graduated from university, she did an internship with the World Vision office in the city. She came across an announcement in the bulletin about being a World Vision youth ambassador and encouraged me to apply. I think I was the only former sponsored child who applied for it – and I was chosen.
I travelled to the United States with 60 youth from 60 different countries, talking about peace, hope, reconciliation. We visited Guatemala and met the president, we went to Taiwan, Japan… I really could not comprehend, you know, meeting the president! Coming back from that, my life completely changed. I dedicated myself to bringing peace to others, which meant I wanted to work as a Christian worker full time, to change the world.
So I went to a seminary to study, and they asked me to stay on as a teacher. My mum became a teacher, my sister became a teacher, and I became a teacher. And now I sponsor children!
Of course not everybody has an incredible story, but if you come to my village and talk about World Vision a lot of people know them and have good memories, because the whole community was impacted by the work. My neighbour, my best friend when I was small, she graduated from high school – which was impossible before – but her parents did not see the importance of going through university. But now her kids are at university! Change is progressive.
By helping one child, you can change the world. I don’t say that money is not important – it is important, it’s the means that helped me get an education – but the impact is beyond what money can do. With your donation you open a wide door for children to explore.