Volunteer Nurse Cares for Isolated Migrant Shepherds

Betzi Quiroz is a nurse who has committed to serving migrant Peruvian shepherds in Idaho. She shares how her eyes have been opened to see the incredibly hard work the shepherds do every day.

Video Transcript

50 miles from the nearest town, Idaho — migrant shepherds.

Betzi Quiroz: You have to be desperate to be in this job, and these guys are desperate. If you were to get injured, whether it was across at the mountain that we’re facing, and it was amongst those rocks, or you slipped and fell and broke a leg or an arm, it would be really difficult to try to drag yourself to the nearest road. And so that’s the biggest issue, the biggest unsafety that they face — just not having the medical services available.

Betzi Quiroz has committed her life to serving migrant Peruvian shepherds in Idaho. The men are incredibly isolated for months at a time, often without proper medical care or supplies. A nursing professor herself, Betzi provides supplies and training for free during her weekends.

Betzi (in Spanish): Okay, we’ll check you, too. Have you had your blood pressure checked before?

Shepherd:</em? No.

Betzi: No? Okay.

For this 50-year-old herder, today is the first time he’s having his blood pressure taken.

Betzi (in Spanish): …but first we’ll see where it’s at and if it’s good. But you don’t have headaches or…

Shepherd (in Spanish): Yes, a few.

Betzi (in Spanish): A few?

Betzi: They are encouraged to see each other as family and to watch out for one another. As a member of this community, I have grown to identify areas in which they’re interested in learning how to better care for each other, because we did have an incident — one of herders choked on something he was eating and he was just flailing on the floor. The request was, “Can you show us how to do the Heimlich maneuver, especially since we’re so far away from everything?”

And so, we have been able to identify resources and figure out a way to give them hands-on training, so that they can do that and be able to keep themselves alive. And it has worked.

Betzi (in Spanish): Antibiotic cream.

Shepherd off-screen (in Spanish): This is really good.

Betzi: Yes.

The work that they do, it’s something that is really hard. You often hear people say, “These are individuals who are taking jobs away from the locals, from Americans.” I’ve got to tell you, they have tried to hire Americans — there are zero applications. None whatsoever.

Over the past 26 years that I have been here, there are no applicants for this. I know that personally, I wouldn’t be able to do this job. I can go camping for three days and have fun, and then call it quits. These guys are doing this every single day and they can’t call it quits because this is their job, this is their life, this is their home for now.

For more great stories like this, subscribe to Grotto Network.

Be in the know with Grotto