McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Student cancer survivor's 'wish' will support clinic for Guatemalan children

By Matt Terry | Daily News

Published: December 23, 2015
Matthew Boroditsky, left, with Kevin, a boy from a Guatemalan village
Matthew Boroditsky, left, with Kevin, whose injured arm sparked Boroditsky's idea to support a clinic in a Guatemalan village.

When Matthew Boroditsky was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer, he was granted a wish.

Then he gave it away.

Boroditsky, now a second-year Health Sciences student, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, back in Grade 12. Because he was under the age of 18 at the time, the Children's Wish Foundation offered to grant him a wish.

He could have travelled to an exotic destination. He could have met his favourite celebrity. He could have — like many — gone to Disneyland. Instead, he asked the foundation to support a community program called Project Somos Village, which offers housing, education and training for Guatemalan mothers.

Boroditsky and his classmates had visited the village, in the southern Guatemalan community of Chivarabal, as part of a service-learning experience.

"I remembered meeting a young boy there who had broken his arm and whose family didn't have the money to get it splinted properly," says Boroditsky. "I thought, what if there was a clinic in the village to make sure things like that didn't happen?"

Boroditsky told the Children's Wish Foundation his request: to support the building of a clinic in the village. Foundation staff hadn't received such a request before, but said they thought they could make it happen. A short while later, the money was in place and Boroditsky's wish had effectively jump-started a multi-purpose administration building in the Project Somos Village.

"Their vision is, among other things, about sustainability — not just environmental sustainability, but creating a truly sustainable, ongoing project that really helps people, rather than suddenly ending one day. That's what really drew me to them," he says.

Boroditsky's work with Project Somos, along with his long track record of leadership in scholastic, extra-curricular and athletic activities, earned the student a Terry Fox Humanitarian Award this year.

"More people just need to stop, look around and see what they can do to make the world a better place," says Boroditsky. "Too often, people just don't do that."

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