Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A Remarkable Man


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. 


26 comments:

  1. Good for you - doing the research on your own to discover who this man really was! Obviously he was one lovingly devoted to his work. Gratefully, there are many people so devoted to what they do - including doctors. Perhaps, living in small towns & communities, I see more of such people, but I would hope there are good numbers of selfless & giving people like Jose in all places & walks of life. By & large, given half a chance, people are kind & generous. At least that has been my lucky experience. Good post!

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  2. Looks to me like you're going to have to learn Spanish.

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  3. What's the use of a statue if nobody knows something about the depicted figure. So well done!

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  4. It sounds like he fought against the odds in both his personal life and professional life. He absolutely deserves a statue to keep his contribution alive.

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  5. How many times have we passed this monument? Not knowing the relevance of such a figure of a man. Thank you Marilyn for taking the time to research, (not an easy one). Now I know every time I pass there with this knowledge, I have so much more respect for this humble dedicated man.

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  6. A great story and a lesson to us all - how many times do we walk past something in our own neighbourhood and never really know what it is about, or take the time to find out?

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  7. I can see shy the statue appealed and I liked the way you went on the detective trail to research such a fascinating story.

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  8. Hail the Good Doctor! It Must Have Been Especially Difficult Being So Isolated From Mainland Spain?

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  9. Love strong, dedicated people who come through their trials and go on to help others!

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  10. Glad you were able to find out about the man and story behind the statue.

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  11. Doctors who also write poetry are always fascinating to me. Thanks for compiling info about your local hero and sharing it. Dr Jose Molina Orosa's story certainly deserves to be told.

    Hazel

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  12. Now there's a man who deserves respect for posterity.

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  13. I really like the reseach and the stories brought forth by these Sepia prompts ---and this posts exceeds expectations. The city did well to to have a bronze medal for Jose Molia Orosa. and he was indeed handsome, with a dark and brooding look.

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  14. It seems that many doctors (my grandfather included) had childhood ailments; I think those diseases must have influenced their choice of career!

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  15. There seems to be a lot of information about him on the web - in Spanish. One day when I'm not trying to visit all the sepia saturday posts, I will have to try and read some of the poetry.

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  16. Thank you for this interesting post. A man to be remembered!

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  17. Quite an individual, Nell. How sad that so many heroes are overlooked and never have a proper foothold in history. Well done for bringing Jose Molino Orosa to our attention!

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  18. Jose is someone we would never have known about but for your research. An important man for Lanzarote. There must be many unsung heroes like him in other places that we will never hear about.

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  19. Thank you for highlighting the good doctor, Marilyn. Very interesting.

    Kathy M.

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  20. Discovering the backstory, is so important, and can be a journey at the same time. Statues have always fascinated me as well. We're fortunate that most of the statues around where I live give great details. Excellent post.

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  21. A perfect fit for this weekend's theme. Good doctors deserve monuments and statues much more than generals and politicians.

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  22. Wow, it sounds like the good doctor was very multi talented - a poet, a founder of an arts and crafts school besides treating the poor. So glad you were able to find out so much about him.

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  23. This was fascinating and made me think of Father Damien who lived with those who had leprosy on Molokai, Hawaii. The leper colony still existed when I lived in Hawaii, and the story of Father Damien was well known. In time I'm sure he too will be forgotten. I believe there is one statue to him.

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  24. An interesting story. So often it is these local, unsung heroes who we are best remembering and it is good to see a memorial as fine as the person it is paying tribute to.

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  25. Now that is the sort of person who SHOULD have a statue put up to him - not some boring old aristocrat or MP!

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  26. No hablo espanol...
    but I'm glad the people can now find a bit of their identity
    in such documents. History is important to any culture.
    :)~
    HUGZ

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