When you first meet and get to know Doctor Reynaldo Medina and his wife Doctor Yokasta Paulino, it is easy to see they are a loving couple and a pair of doctors with a true passion for medicine. Having worked in both our Dominican Republic and Panama sites, the two have been with us longer than most of the doctors we work with today. Their love for each other is heartwarming to say the least, but the way in which they share that love with their patients is a true gift to witness.
Reynaldo and Yokasta began working with us back in 2013, when we first opened our site in the Dominican Republic. Since both are native to the DR and to the region in which our clinics are held, you could tell the two of them were eager to begin working right from the start.
Like all beginnings, the first few weeks of work with the communities were extremely chaotic and challenging. We had to find new communities and create relationships with complete strangers. We had to gather funds and find ways to supply clinics in a completely new environment. Needless to say, Reynaldo and Yokasta (along with everyone) were exhausted, but they showed no signs of quitting.
In memory of those early weeks, Mark Stanley, the CEO and founder of Volunteers Around the World, had this to say: “I had negotiated a deal to pay the hospital where Reynaldo and Yokasta were both formerly employed. The hospital, in turn, “lent” us a few of their employees (Reynaldo and Yokasta) to get us started in the region. Those first two weeks in the DR were rough, because, back then, we didn’t know we needed to control the number of patients per day. Our experience in our first Medical Outreach Site in Guatemala had always been in small communities so we could see the entire community in one day. In the DR, however, the communities were much larger and there were days when we had over 500 patients per day coming through our door! After the first two weeks were done, I asked Reynaldo and Yokasta about the money we were paying them. Since I didn’t really know the going rate for the daily wages of a doctor in the DR at that time, I wanted to know if the compensation we were paying them was a good wage. They both looked at me like I had 3 heads! They had no idea they were being paid! The hospital we had paid told them the job was a volunteer job! I was so impressed that they had the desire to work so hard as volunteers that I knew I wanted to hire them permanently and make sure they would get paid a fair wage for their labor.”
Drs. Reynaldo and Yokasta have since taken on the positions as co-Medical Coordinators in our site in Panama. The two are extraordinary examples of VAW at work. Stories such as these capture the essence of why we do what we do, and we can only hope that as we carry on our work we can find people as amazing as Reynaldo and Yokasta.
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