Mountain View Voice

News - April 30, 2010

Student sees Rwanda up close

Ten-day medical mission opened eyes of MVHS senior

by Ellen Huet

Vince Cortinas, Jr., a senior at Mountain View High School, could never have predicted that coaching a Little League baseball team would lead to his first trip overseas.

But one of the player's parents, Drew Patterson, was involved with a group called Medical Mission for Children (MMFC) through Stanford Medical Center. Patterson invited Cortinas to come along on one of MMFC's medical service trips to Gitwe, Rwanda, and Cortinas couldn't turn down the opportunity to help others in need.

A national medical service organization, MMFC connects doctors across the U.S. with hard-to-access areas where medical care is most needed, in countries such as Rwanda, Guatemala, Peru, Ukraine, Tanzania and India. In missions to Gitwe, most procedures are cleft lip and goiter surgeries for village residents who have no other access to such help.

Cortinas, along with a team of surgeons and anesthesiologists from Stanford and Northwestern Universities, arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Feb. 28, and spent 10 days in Gitwe, a small village about a two-hour drive away, where medical facilities were less than ideal.

"They had a 'hospital,' but it was just a building with empty rooms," Cortinas said.

According to Cortinas, MMFC plans annual trips to Gitwe, but some are postponed because of unrest in the country.

While in Gitwe, Cortinas was able to observe surgeries and took part in other medical tasks. The group also brought other supplies to Rwanda such as pens and paper, which seemed "like gold" to village residents, Cortinas said. He also helped install a computer system that will allow hospitals at Stanford and Northwestern to access medical forms from Gitwe, improving the quality of medical care in the village.

Although the purpose of the trip focused on medical and technical help, Cortinas felt he benefited in other ways.

"My favorite part of the trip for sure was visiting the elementary school in Gitwe," he said. "When we rolled up, the kids just mobbed us — they were so excited."

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields