About Us


  • Deborah Bell

    Deborah Bell

    After co-founding Refuge International in 2003, Deborah traveled to Guatemala for Refuge International’s first medical mission trip. She continued to lead Refuge medical teams and clean-water teams for 15 years, handing off the leadership to others in 2018 because of health issues. But she knew there was more to be done.

    When co-founding Madre y Niño, she recalled the first patient Refuge volunteers cared for. She was a pregnant woman who had been ready to deliver her baby for two weeks before the arrival of the first Refuge team (her water had broken). She had been to the national hospital daily and was turned away as there was no staff available to provide care. Deborah knew from that first patient experience that the care of pregnant women in Guatemala was inadequate.

    And what about the children? On her first trip to the remote village of Sarstún Guatemala, she found children with big bellies, changes in their hair, sores on their legs, all the result of malnutrition. She asked herself why children who lived closer to her home than children in Washington, DC or Denver could be so malnourished and dying, and she determined to do something about it.

  • Kimberly Garcia

    Kimberly Garcia

    Kimberly Garcia has been director of the certified nurse midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner programs at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Utah. A Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Kimberly has been teaching Guatemalan lay midwives for 15 years, and has published her research in Midwifery, the Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, and the Journal of Transcultural Nursing, among other publications.

    Kimberly received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the Jeanne Raisier International Award for Midwifery in 2022. She is also a Doctor of Nursing Practice and an American College of Nurse Midwives Fellow.

  • Robert Kahn

    Robert Kahn

    Robert Kahn became acquainted with Indigenous America by teaching high school and living on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona for six years. On summer vacation in 1981, he narrowly escaped a Guatemalan army massacre in a Maya village in Guatemala. He left the reservation in 1984 to work as a paralegal in U.S. immigration prisons. His nonfiction book, Other People’s Blood: U.S. Immigration Prisons in the Reagan Decade, was the first book-length history of U.S. immigration prisons. He worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for daily newspapers for 15 years and continues to write a weekly column for Courthouse News.

  • Malia Knight

    Malia Knight

    Malia Knight is a retired registered nurse who has been on more than 20 medical mission trips to Guatemala with Refuge International and Madre y Niño. Since her first trip to Guatemala in 2009, she says, caring for the people of Guatemala has become her passion. “I saw their need was great and their gratitude even greater.”

    Among her tasks have been working in pre-op, post-op, in the pharmacy, and as a team leader. Her husband, Randy, volunteers in projects to provide clean drinking water to the Maya. Together they helped open a school in the remote village of Rio Blanco in the department of Izabál. She hopes to continue to serve the people of Guatemala in a hands-on capacity and through Madre y Niño.

  • Michelle Solis

    Michelle Solis

    Michelle is a retired registered nurse. She owned and operated a home health and hospice agency in Longview, Texas for 21 years. Working as a lay midwife, she helped deliver more than 400 babies.

    Michelle has been going on medical missions to Guatemala since 2003. On her last trip to the Petén, in October 2020, in addition to her customary work with midwives, she informed them about Covid and how to prevent it, and brought much-needed supplies. Michelle is the treasurer for Madre y Niño.

Board Members

  • Claire Earnest

    Claire Earnest is a law student who has traveled to Guatemala on a medical mission and helped vaccinate over 400 chickens on that trip. She has an interest in women’s rights.

  • Hector Garza

    Hector Garza is an attorney from Mexico. He is an award-winning journalist. He plays the guitar and sings.

  • Teri Grothaus

    Teri Grothaus

    Teri Grothaus is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner who has been in the field of pediatrics for over 30 years. As a registered nurse, she worked in labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care, and pediatric home health. She graduated from Wright State University in Dayton, OH in 2015 with a Master’s degree in child and adolescent health and pediatric primary care. In 2022, she opened the first nurse practitioner owned pediatric primary care office in her area, Hometown Pediatrics, which serves newborns and children up to 18 years of age. She is also a certified breastfeeding specialist (CBS), and the owner/operator of Bright Beginnings Baby Center, a clinic that focuses on breastfeeding medicine and provides CO₂ laser lip and tongue tie releases.

    In 2006, Teri and her husband, Chris, were blessed by the gift of adoption and brought their daughter home from Guatemala, adding to their family of 4 boys. Her daughter’s adoption inspired Teri to return to Guatemala for multiple medical mission trips. She is passionate about providing for the overall well-being of the Guatemalan children and providing education to families.

  • Patty Stephens

    Patty Stephens

    Patty Stephens is a Physician Assistant working in Robotic Gynecology Surgery at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lamar University and is a graduate of the UT Southwestern Physician Assistant program.

    Patty is passionate about teaching, and therefore enjoys lecturing and teaching at the UTSW PA program both in women’s health and surgery. She also serves as the UTSW OBGYN Clerkship Section Director and actively precepts PA students in GYN surgery.

    Originally from the Czech Republic, raised in Aruba, she immigrated to the USA in Texas when she was 16 years old, sparking her interest in global medicine. She sits on the board of directors for Physician Assistants for Global Health and is involved in various Global Health activities both personally and with UTSW. In her spare time, Patty loves to travel, do yoga, rock climb, hike, and spend time with her family.

  • Dr. Chris Yancey

    Dr. Chris Yancey is an OB/GYN who has also worked extensively in Guatemala on medical missions.

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