Why I Volunteer: Serving Indigenous Communities & Midwives

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Nora King, Medical Student Intern

I was attracted to volunteering with Wuqu’ Kawoq because of its commitment to providing quality health care to marginalized communities. My “big-picture” goal was to learn how lofty ideas about social justice in health care can be put to practice—something that I learned more about every day I was in Guatemala this past year! My colleagues’ dedication to our patients’ health and wellness—their long hours, compassion and enthusiasm—have shown me what it takes to practice what we preach. I’ve been surprised how intersectional the work is: on any given day I will look up questions about clinical medicine, anthropology, history, and Kaqchikel language, among other things.

Working with Wuqu’ Kawoq has also helped me determine what I would like to do with my life and career. After finishing medical school, I will apply to residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The WK team has invited me to stay involved over the next few years developing an exciting new research project expanding my work with midwives. Eventually, I would like to work in Guatemala as a teacher and physician, serving indigenous communities and advocating for midwives. I am grateful to my colleagues, mentors and the communities we serve for giving me this opportunity.

Nora King is a 4th year medical student at the Mayo Clinic. She spent 2013-2014 volunteering with Wuqu’ Kawoq – Maya Health Alliance with a Fulbright Grant on a project to work with midwives to treat postpartum hemorrhage through a partner organization, the Asociación de Comadronas Tradicionales de Chimaltenango (ACOTCHI). She also works with our palliative care patients and women’s health program.