Café with Pablo (Coffee with Pablo)
Meet our dear friend Pablo Santizo. Pablo is the first person we see when we arrive at the hospital in San Lucas. For 22 years Pablo has selflessly served and hosted groups that come here to treat the good people of San Lucas and surrounding areas. Pablo is one of the first people that I, personally, am excited to see when we arrive. You will soon learn why. He is a remarkable person, indeed.
Pablo Santizo is the oldest of 9 children. When he was young, he developed tetanus and they told his parents he would be paralyzed or have medical issues all of his life. He says they made an offering to God and promised he would do great things. His parents did not send any of their children to school because they needed them to work and help provide for the family. This was so in Pablo’s case. He worked on a coffee plantation for 30 years. He also took correspondence classes through the mail to become a nurse. He left the plantation because he wanted to be in a hospital, helping people. When he came to the parish, the priest said he felt as though he had been waiting for Pablo all along. Although Pablo wanted to be a nurse, he needed more education, but the priest believed he had a different purpose. He wanted Pablo to help host the groups who would be coming to the new hospital, built in 1994, which started with a dental clinic.
At the new hospital Pablo was the only employee at first. He was in charge of everything, from top to bottom. The priest wanted him there 24/7, so that when the groups came, he would know everything they needed and be able to assist and help them, and answer any questions they might have. He did it all, and to a large extent, still does.
Fifteen years ago, the hospital added a second story. They expanded care to include an eye clinic. Pablo was asked to stay on at the hospital indefinitely, and his loyalty was strong. He did not want to say no, when they had been so good to him and given him this opportunity. He says he felt he was “chosen” for this, from the time he was a small child; that this was his purpose. His job has always been to care for this hospital and host the groups and give tours, and it always will be. He feels that this is his mission to complete for the rest of his life.
Today, Pablo still hosts all the tours that come through the hospital, and he says he always mentions the Kansas group and how much they have given to the hospital. It means so much to them. He means so much to us, as well. Medical Missions Foundation was the first surgical team he hosted in the hospital, in 2009. He hosted the scouting team in 2008. Pablo is always on hand to do whatever is needed daily. He always has coffee made, will bring cold water bottles for us, and anything else that is needed. At lunchtime, Pablo sets out the tablecloths, utensils, and drinks. He also sets out the food that is prepared for us, and cleans up afterward as well. He is truly a servant at heart.
Pablo says there are three things that make him who he is: his honesty/truthfulness, his obedience, and that he is a hard worker. He is absolutely all of those things, and he gives 100%. His own personal claim is that his “best diploma” (or what he feels he offers most) is that he speaks Kaqchikel, which is the Mayan Indian language that many of the indigenous people in the area speak. He feels that he is their ambassador or liaison, making care available to all of them as well.