People & Perspectives

Meet Maribel Zúñiga, pharmacist at Farmacias Ahumada

She shares how COVID-19 has strengthened her team in Santiago, Chile – and how her team has become her family.

Maribel behind the counter
Maribel in store

This feature is part of a series profiling the lives of our WBA team members around the world.

My name is Maribel Zúñiga and I am a Farmacias Ahumada pharmacist in Santiago, Chile. I wake up at 5:45 a.m. each morning and by 6:30 a.m. I am ready to go to the store. A year ago, I started using my bicycle for my commute and I love it. It takes me around 45 minutes  and  helps me arrive at the store with more energy and a clear mind.

My shift starts at 8 a.m. Our store is open 24 hours a day so the team and I are available to serve our customers’ needs at all times. My shift finishes at 4 p.m. but sometimes I stay longer to shoot some short clips for our Farmacias Ahumada Facebook Live events. I love being part of these videos, where I advise our patients and customers on different matters. When I finish, I grab my bicycle again and ride back home.

Maribel with her parents

COVID-19 has completely changed my life.

I lost my father due to COVID-19 in May 2020 and I have not been able to be with my mother as I had wished. However, these difficult times have also helped me to be grateful for everything I have in my life: my mother, my friends and my job, which I love. I also value my colleagues, my team’s togetherness and the care we constantly show for each other. I also keep reminding myself that there will be an end to this pandemic, this, and I can’t wait for that end to come. I look forward to spending time with my family and friends as well traveling again.

Maribel with her team

COVID-19 has strengthened our team. My team has become my family. 

We have had the chance to get to know each other more at a personal level. We make sure to ask each other how we are feeling every day, what we need and how we can support each other in order to be physically and psychologically well. 
Together, we look after our customers. We advise them on prevention and make sure they follow the government protocols, just like we do. We are aware that we need to follow the established protocols not only for our ourselves, but also for our families, the people around us and our patients.

I know this is my place. The best place in the world with the best team ever, making a difference in people’s lives every day.

Maribel outside her store

At Farmacias Ahumada, there’s a service we offer that is close to my heart called “Safe Spaces”. With the country in total quarantine, there’s an increase of domestic violence against women. For this reason, Farmacias Ahumada has worked with the Ministry of Women in Chile to help and support women across the country. The service is very simple: a woman just needs to approach a store attendant and ask for “Mask-19”. As soon as she does, a protocol is activated. When these situations happen, I always act as naturally as possible and don’t say anything that could put the patient at risk as she might be accompanied by her abuser. To find out more about the “Safe Spaces” service, I invite you to watch this video.

I feel very proud and fortunate to be part of Farmacias Ahumada, which made my dream come true. I have always wanted to be a pharmacist, and now I can help contribute to the wellbeing of millions of people in Chile. 

We are going to overcome this difficult time together, but in the meantime I will keep working with my team. We will support each other and, despite the difficulties, we will keep being on the frontlines making a difference for our customers. This is my role in life, and I would not see myself anywhere else. 

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