and public health advocate
Usulután, El Salvador
torture survivor and political refugee, Juan Romagoza serves
his community as executive director of Washington, D.C.'s
La Clínica del Pueblo. He shares his clinic's holistic
approach to medical care by acknowledging the social and economic
factors influencing his patients' health.
worst thing that happened in my life was having to leave my
hometown. I believed that I was going to come back as a doctor
and do what I had always dreamed. Now I understand that my
people are also here. They're everywhere.”
by Archbishop Oscar Romero's devotion to El Salvador's poor,
Romagoza provided medical care in some of the country's most
dangerous areas during the tumultuous civil war of the 1980s.
Suspected by officials of being a guerilla leader, the young
medical student was tortured so severely that nerve damage
now prevents him from performing surgery. Later
released, Romagoza was smuggled to Guatemala, then later to
and finally to the United States, where he eventually became
a U.S. citizen. In 1986, Romagoza became involved with La Clínica
del Pueblo, a clinic that provides free medical care, education,
and advocacy services. With more than 5,000 patients, most
of whom are Salvadorians displaced by war, the clinic offers
Romagoza another way to serve his native country's poor.