Scholarships Create Life-Saving Medical Workers in Tijuana

Seeds planted through the San Eugenio Scholarship program in Tijuana, Mexico, are now bearing fruit. Some who were given an opportunity for a medical education are now helping save lives in their community.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate began the Scholarship program in Tijuana in 2017, said Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI, who has served in Tijuana for a decade. Now, some of that program’s graduates are volunteering as doctors and nurses in the mission. They make home visits to care for the elderly and infirm.

The need for the Scholarship program became apparent during the COVID pandemic, Fr. Jesse said.

“We realized how many people were dying because the clinics were closed,” he said. “We saw people who hadn’t been physically able to bathe in weeks, who had no medication or who were taking their medication improperly. It really emphasized the need.”

From that need grew the service in which those who were given scholarships through the Missionary Oblates’ program are now able to make home visits to check vital signs, clean wounds and diagnose life-threatening problems.

Father Jesse spoke of a situation in which doctors arrived at the home of a woman who was turning purple and was unable to make it to a medical clinic. Those doctors were able to get an oxygen tank and save the woman’s life.

“That’s how crucial this work is,” Fr. Jesse said.

The scholarship recipients who now are serving as doctors are Joseline Robledo, Karla Gonzalez, Erik Solis and Isabel Bahena. Those serving as nurses are Nadia Medina and Adrian Estrada. Their growth from scholarship recipients to trained helpers demonstrates how the Missionary Oblates’ involvement is helping create a self-sustainable community.

Beyond that, Fr. Jesse said it is rewarding to see these scholarships recipients become heavily involved in the parish even beyond their medical volunteering, participating in retreats and in leadership.

“They are great examples for other young men and women about what it means to be committed to their community,” he said. “It’s been an incredible journey to see these people, who had no possibility of going to university because of the lack of resources, go on and get their degrees and then help save lives in their own communities. Through that, you see the grace of God, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.”