Nurse Marta Flores of American Canyon is spending this week in Guatemala as part of an international healthcare program to provide wheelchairs to those with disabilities.
A registered nurse at Queen of the Valley, Flores is one of 49 medical professionals with Providence St. Joseph Health to volunteer in Guatemala along with two nonprofit organizations, Global Partnerships and Faith In Practice.
Flores will be part of a physical therapy team assembling, fitting, and providing free wheelchairs to individuals with serious mobility constraints, according to a Queen of the Valley press release.
Her work will also include being part of the larger surgical ambulatory clinic.
Asked why she wanted to volunteer in Guatemala, Flores said: “There is a song in Spanish from a Guatemalan singer that says: ‘Jesus is a verb, not a noun,’ and I genuinely believe that. I am excited for this opportunity to serve others with the little that I have.”
Flores was chosen for the trip because of her nursing background and her fluency in Spanish, according to Manjula Prasad, administrative coordinator for Global Partnerships.
She is one of two caregivers from St. Joseph Health in Northern California making the trip to Guatemala. In April, Patricia Scagliotti from St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka will volunteer as an interpreter supporting the medical mission.
The wheelchairs being provided are from the Free Wheelchair Mission, and are built for the climate and terrain in Guatemala.
“In Guatemala, wheelchairs are nearly impossible to come by,” wrote Melissa Tizon, Providence St. Joseph Health executive communications director in her team blog as a volunteer photojournalist with Global Partnerships.
“People with disabilities depend on family to carry them,” Tizon said. “Sometimes they use wheelbarrows. Sometimes they have no choice but to crawl.”