Can one week change your life? Cathy Cantway believes it can.
To open her own eyes to the poverty in this world and to provide some healing in the process, the 1999 Steamboat Springs High School graduate is joining a group of doctors and students for a trip to the poorest neighborhoods of Quito, Ecuador.
"I've traveled in Europe before, but I've never experienced poverty myself," she said. "From what I've been told, these people live in horrible living conditions.
"The people they visited last year live right next door to a landfill."
Cantway will be one of eight doctors and 23 students sent to Ecuador by the Indiana based nonprofit Timmy Foundation.
"I want to experience how other people live and know what they go through," Cantway said. "I want to learn to appreciate what we have and what we can share -- those things we take for granted."
The Timmy Foundation was founded by Dr. Charles Dietzen (better known as Dr. Chuck) to assist the medically underserved children he met while conducting medical missions in Haiti and India. The group has expanded its services to countries across the world and makes three trips a year to Quito, Ecuador.
Volunteers pay their own way ($1,270 for airfare and a week of living expenses) and bring with them basic medical supplies such as prescription drugs, sutures, Band-Aids, antibiotics and antiseptics.
Cantway will be joined in the group by her father, Dr. Don Cantway, who has a medical practice in Laramie, Wyoming.
The Timmy Foundation partners with organizations in the host country that provide medical care to people who cannot afford it.
In Quito, the Timmy Foundation has partnered with the Fundacion Tierra Nueva, a group that operates a medical clinic in South Quito.
Tierra Nueva is currently constructing a 100-bed hospital.
In addition to health care, Tierra Nueva operates a home-building ministry similar to Habitat for Humanity.
The Timmy Foundation is preparing a collection of computers, medical supplies and quality medical equipment for the organization.
Cantway first got involved with a chapter of the Timmy Foundation at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She graduated last year with a bachelor's degree in molecular biology. She returned to school this year to earn a second degree, this one in Spanish, before going to medical school.
For Cantway's trip to Ecuador, scheduled for March, the group already has secured a $51,000 donation from a prescription drug company, but it is looking for more donations. Beyond monetary donations, the members need children's chewable vitamins, toothbrushes and toothpaste and other hygiene-related items.
To make donations or for more information, call Cathy at 846-5793 or visit the Timmy Foundation Web site at www.timmyfoundation.org.
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