From globetrotting to lifesaving work – on a truck
After a year and thousands of kilometres on the road with Heart of Australia, cheery Maria Abrigo says she is “immensely enjoying” a working life a world away from what she was used to as a globetrotting executive assistant to the CEO of an international nutraceutical company.
Even before the Spanish-Chinese Maria graduated with a degree in biochemistry from university in her home city of Manila, in The Philippines, she already had been appointed as a senior marketing executive with the Japan-based Sun O International – the start of 18 years for her with the company.
It was only after the death of the Sun O founder and CEO in 2009 that Maria decided on a change. In 2010, Maria headed for Australia to spend time with her mother, Nenita – who just happened to have migrated to Townsville.
After a stint with local government in Manila, Maria set off back to Townsville to pursue a post-graduate degree in Biomedical Science as part of a placement in the Townsville Hospital’s cardiac department – where a cardiologist introduced her to Heart of Australia.
Now, Maria has her Mum with her in Brisbane and she says her life’s “going wonderfully great”. In fact, Maria drives the whole circuit for other staff in a Bayer support vehicle, piloting the Heart of Australia semi-trailer and warning the rig drivers of any road problems ahead.
For Maria, among the highs of her work for the past year on the road is “being amazed at what can be done with the heart” and the “overwhelming appreciation of the people” turning up for Heart of Australia clinics.
Maria hopes that “one day soon” the same potentially life-saving equipment used in the travelling clinics in Queensland will be available in The Philippines.
Interview with Peter MacDonald
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