Reflection from a rural doctor in El Salvador – Carlos Orellana

by Carlos Orellana

En español

Carlos is a doctor in a rural health clinic in Chalatenango, El Salvador.  He is also a community leader and a very involved member of the Sister Parish relationship that his community Potrerillos has with Decorah First United Methodist Church.


The past month in quarantine has been difficult.  In the very beginning, as a doctor, I thought we would be able to control the pandemic. At the time, I thought that the rural communities wouldn’t be too affected. At that moment I was thinking as the head doctor of a rural health care clinic.

It was not until I was transferred to the regional hospital in Chalatenango that I understood the reality more clearly.  Initially, I was working as a primary care doctor for COVID-19 patients. At this point, I was able to face the fear, not just my fears for myself because of my daily exposure to the disease, but also the stress of not having much contact with my family and the fear that, with contact, I could pass the virus on to them.

Later, I was asked to go and help the team in the morgue, where I witnessed  and felt pain, sorrow, suffering, empathy, and the fear of death.  I also witnessed dehumanization.  But in the middle of all of that, I felt what it really means to be human at the deepest level.

Carlos and his wife Alba on a visit to their sister community in Decorah, Iowa in 2014.

Carlos talks to our 2019 Open Delegation about efforts to find funding for a potable water project in Potrerillos.

Volunteers work to clean and disinfect public spaces in rural communities in El Salvador. Potrerillos, Chalatenango.

About sisterparishinc

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