|   Posted: February 06, 2017

Yannely is working to start a foundation that will help sick little girls and boys in the Dominican Republic at no cost.

Yannely Suero

Yannely is working to start a foundation that will help sick little girls and boys in the Dominican Republic at no cost.

Yannely provides medical assistance

Home Country: Dominican Republic

Occupation: Fourth-year medical student with one of the highest grade-point averages in her program

Life Goal: “Someday I will start a foundation in honor of my sponsor that will provide free health care to the poor people of my country.”

Have you ever felt rejected? A friend stops speaking to you. A fight with a family member is followed by weeks of silence. Multiply how that made you feel. And imagine a little girl walking down the street to her father’s home. She sees him and waves. And he runs away. Locks himself inside. Refuses to speak to her. How must she have felt? Unlovable. Alone. What would it take to heal that kind of rejection?

Rejected and Redeemed

Growing up without a father was not uncommon in Villa Flores. This poor community in the Dominican Republic was filled with single mothers struggling to provide.

But for Yannely, it went beyond not having a father to teach her to ride a bike or bring home a treat after work. It was having a father who had never wanted her. Who actively pushed her away.

It began the day her father learned her mother Lidia was pregnant. “Get rid of it,” he commanded. When Lidia refused he abandoned her, leaving her alone to raise their daughter. As soon as she was old enough, Yannely begged her mother to tell her who her father was. It was a small community, and Lidia knew she would find out soon enough.

Nothing prepared Yannely for her father’s reaction. When he saw her coming he would run to his house and hide. He ignored the knocking on the door. Refused to even acknowledge the little girl standing there.

What must that have done to little Yannely? If her own father couldn't love her, who could?

But there was something that tempered the sadness Yannely felt about her father. A source of strength and healing she turned to after she walked home from her father’s. Letters, dozens of them, from her Compassion sponsor, Dorothy Schmitz.

Dorothy had been Yannely’s sponsor since the girl was 4 years old. Over the years she had become a kind of mentor and grandmother to Yannely. Dorothy told Yannely about her family and her grandchildren, and Yannely told Dorothy about her secret dream.

It felt like such a big dream that Yannely was almost afraid to speak it out loud. But she wrote it in her letters to Dorothy.

“I want to be a doctor one day.”

And Dorothy, like any good grandmother, wrote back with words of encouragement.

“I am praying so that your dreams will come true and that you will become a great doctor.”

But Yannely knew something her sponsor didn’t. Because her father refused to be listed on her birth certificate, refused to let her take his last name, she did not have proper documentation to take the national tests to graduate from high school.

Would her father’s rejection keep her from the one thing she dreamed of? Could a fatherless girl living in poverty ever be a doctor?

But there, in the back of her mind, came the words of her sponsor. The unimaginable love of someone who had never even met her. So Yannely persevered. She and her mother petitioned the government, and she was granted permission to take her test. And when she graduated from high school, she kept pushing, kept persevering. With the words of Dorothy echoing in her mind, she got into medical school.

The Yannely who strides through the halls of a clinic today seems so far from the little girl knocking on her father’s door. A father whom she has now forgiven. Whom she talks to when she passes him on the street.

This Yannely is on a path to become a pediatrician. To help sick little girls and boys in the Dominican Republic.

Yannely is working to start a foundation that will help those children at no cost. She will provide peace of mind to single mothers who can’t afford medicine or doctor’s visits.

And she will name it the Dorothy Schmitz Foundation. After the woman who helped her believe in herself. Who helped her find healing.

Who helped her transform.