Nursing Heart staff from left to right: Clinical Director Cesar Santos, Executive Director Andrew Raphael, Pharmacist and Partnerships Coordinator Blanqui Lopez, Operations Manager Walter Garcia

Meet Our Team:

Cesar Santos
César Santos -- Clinical Director

César’s inspiration to become a nurse originated in the figure of Santo Hermano Pedro, whose story he knew since childhood. He knew he wanted to serve the people in a similar way. “We have a multicultural and multilingual country, and I wanted to be able to serve in a common way, regardless of background,” Cesar says. In his first nursing job, he learned to be as “human” as possible when providing care. “I saw all kinds of people in different stages of life, young and old. I learned so much but I knew I had to move on to keep learning.”

César’s philosophy of care is to maintain his spiritual and moral values that he has acquired over his life and from his parents. In his work planning clinics with ACE partner communities, he prioritizes respecting others and responding to them based on their stated needs. César enjoys being able to provide hospitality to ACE’s visiting nurses, and takes pride in being able to give them confidence to learn and in the care they offer to patients in Guatemala. “We are all on the same plane, with the desire to help those around us.”

Blanqui Lopez
Blanqui López -- Pharmacist

Blanqui came to pharmacy through her work with other medical NGOs around Antigua. She studied for pharmacy at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala and through the Ministry of Health. As she learned more about pharmacy, she also learned just how much she loves being an educator. Blanqui enjoys being as specific as possible while developing relationships with clinic patients. “I make sure they have the confidence to ask me a question if they don’t understand something. I love having this connection and being able to serve people in this way. Sometimes people just need to be heard,” she says.

Blanqui tries to transmit her and the staff’s passion for their work to ACE’s visiting groups of nurses. This is informed by her outlook that if someone is passionate about something, they are loving to share that passion everywhere they can. “Passion for hospitality, care, and respect lead to productive and healthy environments. I try to share these things with our groups to remind ourselves why we do the work we do.”

Walter Garcia
Walter Garcia - Operations Manager

Walter started his professional career in social areas around the year 2000, working in the management of elementary education schools and Child Development in several rural communities in the highlands of Guatemala, falling in love with the experience to see the children’s smiles when they were achieving personal goals, ten years later these experiences were increased by been involved in other projects related to health and training, that was one of the reasons why Walter decided to study a master in adult training.
“Being close to hear the primary needs of the families in rural areas is essential to create opportunities for personal development and support them by implementing projects to have a better kind of life for families in Guatemala.”

Walter is also a volunteer in his community and seeks to promote human rights and prevent child abuse in coordination with several community leaders, this is also another reason to keep studying international workshops related to nutrition, human rights, early childhood, and food security.

As operations manager of Asociacion Corazon de Enfermeria, he is grateful to have the opportunity to support the development of the current programs by leading with an example and showing his love for the families, especially for those who are in need of essential health services in the rural communities of Guatemala.

Andrew Raphael - Executive Director

Andrew is grateful for the opportunity to return to Guatemala and work alongside the innovative and resourceful Nursing Heart team as Executive Director. His dedication is grounded in the belief that every person deserves access to dignified healthcare and that this access strengthens our personal and collective standards of living. 

Prior to Nursing Heart, in 2012, Andrew helped to found and lead the Konojel Community Center in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, serving as the Executive Director for six years. As the organization expanded from three staff members to twenty, Konojel created programs that reduced chronic malnutrition and food insecurity and initiatives that improved access to education and employment. In 2018, Andrew relocated temporarily to California to spend time with family and continued serving Latine communities, primarily from Guatemala, at Parent Services, Inc. At the start of the pandemic, he developed programs to train and coach families in digital literacy, helping them build the skills needed to support their children’s online education and advocate for their rights. He’s been at Nursing Heart since July 2022.  

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