I was struck by this simple bronze memorial on one of the main streets of Arrecife, Lanzarote's capital, long before I knew to whom it was commemorated. I could see that the artist had captured someone, a doctor, who was clearly loved. But who was he? The clue is the name underneath the figure, Jose Molino Orosa 1883-1966; this is also the name of our general hospital. My Internet search was hampered by my lack of Spanish, and even using a translation tool, it was difficult to find anything. Worse than that there was no Wikipedia entry! What I did find out is worth reading however, for here was someone who gave his life and medical skills selflessly to the island's people, especially the poor and needy. I can't reproduce pictures of the good doctor due to copyright reasons, but please click on this link to view an illustrated document which will give you a flavour of his remarkable life.
As a child he suffered polio and, as a student, typhus; it's possible that these major diseases affected his choice of profession. He went on to become known as The Village Doctor, someone who worked tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the sick, offering compassion as well as healing. After many years working in these conditions he impressed upon the authorities the need for a hospital. At that time, the whole island was served by two rooms, understaffed and in less than sanitary conditions. It would, however, be 1950 before the first hospital was built. There, as the director, the doctor used his medical and teaching skills to assist and train other doctors. He was a determined fighter against tuberculosis and is still remembered to this day for his generosity and selflessness, even paying for medicines out of his own pocket.
A new book was written by a local journalist, Gregorio Cabrera. It was commissioned by the César Manrique Foundation, as part of a series produced to plug gaps in the island's history. Thank goodness he did, because without having sight of the documents and supporting literature I would still be ignorant about this statue and the life to which it is dedicated. He calls the book, 'Light in Darkness' because he came at a dark time for the island, when its people expected to die young, and the authorities weren't concerned about the needs of the poor. A fighter for the social justice, Jose Molina Orosa also expressed himself in poetry and founded the island's first school for Arts and Crafts. A search of the Memoria de Lanzarote site found this document, 'Jose Molina Orosa, el médico de Lanzarote', which is worth a speedy scroll-through. At the end is a picture of the above statue by Francisco Lasso Morales, being dedicated in 1973. Just before this you can read a selection of his poems - in Spanish!
Sepia Saturday has another medical memorial as the prompt. This Saturday, 6th July, being the day in 1885, when Louis Pasteur successfully treated a boy with the rabies vaccine. See how other contributors are marking the day by clicking the link.