Ángel Solís began working with Global Healthworks Foundation (GHF) in 2015. From van driver to Mobile Clinic Coordinator, Ángel has become one of GHF’s most reliable team members. He is currently studying acupuncture in the hopes of expanding holistic healthcare to even more communities in the near future. Read Ángel’s GHF story below and see how he is transforming healthcare with kindness and compassion
Ángel Solís’ Love of Acupuncture and Drive to Help Heal His Community
“¿Cómo le puede ayudar? (How can I help you?)” asks Ángel Solís, age 22, to most anyone he meets. Whether speaking to a patient, team member, loved one, or stranger, he listens intently, as if each word spoken were the most important he’s heard all day. If he doesn’t know the answer, he finds out, taking each opportunity to learn more and develop as a person and practitioner.
One of the Mobile Clinic Coordinators for Global Healthworks Foundation (GHF), Ángel began working as a clinic van driver in 2015. Within just two months, he began helping with ear needles, applying moxa, giving therapeutic massage, teaching body movement exercises, and managing clinic logistics. “Tenía mucha ilusión (I had a lot of excitement),” he shares of his start with the Foundation. “Tenía la intención de hacer más. Quería ingresar al equipo y hacer más. Entonces, yo preguntaba mucho sobre las agujas, cómo usarlas, … todo eso. (I had the intention of doing more. I wanted to join the [clinic] team and do more. So, I asked a lot about needles, how to use them, …. all of that.)”
Recognizing his skill set and desire to help his people, GHF invited him to become a regular clinic team member. “Even as a chauffeur, Ángel would help out in the clinic,” says Dan Wunderlich, GHF Founder and Executive Director. “He takes initiative and thinks outside the box. His maturity is very impressive, especially for someone so young. He is always asking, ‘Can you teach me this? How can I learn more?’” Today, Ángel helps manage the efforts of more than thirty local health promoters.
Ángel originally wanted to be a firefighter, mostly as a way to serve his local community. But after joining GHF, he fell in love with acupuncture, and his plans changed. “Cuando conoci el efecto de las agujas, me cambiaron (When I understood the effects of the needles, they changed me),” he says of his first acupuncture experience. “Era como mi otro yo. Yo quería ser un bombero, para ayudar a otros. Indirectamente, yo cumplí mis sueños. (It was like I was another me. I wanted to be a firefighter, to help others. Indirectly, I achieved my goals.)”
Ángel recently completed a seven-month introductory acupuncture program in Guatemala City. This coming year, he will continue his studies with additional training in advanced acupuncture, natural medicine, and other holistic health modalities. “When I think about the sustainability of the Foundation’s healthworks in Guatemala, I think of Angel. I know he’s going to make a significant contribution to his community,” says Dan of Ángel’s future as a Maya healthcare practitioner. “He’s such a quick learner. He remembers every little nuance I taught him about needling techniques six months ago. He treats with intention to be of service. Ángel is authentic and a natural healer. I’m very proud of him.”
Beyond offering his needling skills, Ángel has helped to improve the clinic and jornada experience in a number of ways. Recognizing that many patients suffer from headaches as a result of dehydration, Ángel came up with the idea to install large signs highlighting different levels of urination and hydration. “La idea es transmitir la información en una manera más fácil a los pacientes. (The idea is to communicate the information in a easier way to patients),” he explains. “No todas las personas pueden leer. Entonces, incluimos unas caras diferentes a los niveles de hidración. (Not everyone can read. So, we included different faces related to the levels of hydration.)” Ángel also invited a group of nurses from a local Quiché college to take patients’ blood pressure and conduct diabetes testing. “La medicina del occidente y la medicina del oriente no tienen que estar separadas. Es mejor cuando los dos tipos trabajan juntos. (Western medicine and Eastern medicine don’t have to be separate. It is better when the two types work together).”
Last year, Ángel’s father passed around the time he started his first acupuncture program, not too long after his mother’s passing. Both died from cancer. “Quiero aprender más de las plantas medicinales y descubrir algo que puede ayudar a las personas que padecen cáncer. Por eso quisiera incluirlas en al continuidad de mis estudios. (I want to learn more about medicinal plants and to discover something that can help people with cancer. This is why I want to include them [plants] in my studies.)” His hope one day is to establish acupuncture as more of a mainstream healing modality in Quiché.
“He really believes in the natural medicine,” says Claudine Rousseau, GHF Program Manager, who works alongside Ángel in the mobile clinic. “He has a strong interest in what we’re doing, and he’s like a human brain sponge. Plus, he’s got that more sensitive and compassionate side around the people we treat. He knows how the life is in Guatemala. Those things combined make him a great candidate to try and broaden the horizon of where we’re going.”
Though he often works long hours, Ángel says, nothing he does feels like “work.” Rather, it is a gift. “No lo veo como un trabajo (I don’t look at [my job] as work),” he says. “Lo veo como algo para aprender. Cuando haces tu trabajo con bondad y con compasión, nada es difícil. (I see it as something to learn from. When you do your work with kindness and with compassion, nothing is difficult.)”