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Meet Panchito: The Volunteer Nurse Helping Migrants in Nogales, Mexico

Photo and text are excerpt from Max Herman/LATINO USA: 

It was just over 10 years ago that Francisco “Panchito” Olachea Martin was deported from Phoenix, Arizona, to the Mexican city of Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border. With only the clothes on his back, he was sent through the main port of entry, leaving his family and life of almost 34 years behind. Living in the U.S. while undocumented since the late-1970s, Panchito had to start over, but in a new city that he says was not as welcoming to newcomers as it is now.

So for the past decade, Panchito, now 59, has built up his reputation as a nurse and EMT paramedic who hits the streets of Nogales every weekday. Working as a civil association, “Panchito y Su Cristina” (Cristina being his work vehicle named after his daughter), he serves migrants (often asylum seekers) and many vulnerable populations.

While it took time to get to where he is now —equipped with a functioning ambulance, a nursing degree, and basic EMT certification— Panchito says he has always put people in need first.

While Panchito doesn’t seem to mind living on a barebones budget, he does care deeply about having the money to care for others. His initial dilemma was securing funding without having to hold his hand out.

Now with a regular stream of donations, Panchito is able to perform a true patchwork of humanitarian service.