Hannah Adams, Fordham University biology major, interviewed Dr. Cynthia Gomez in fall, 2020 as part of Connect ing Activists series at http://www.LaborArts.org
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Cynthia Gomez on a recent Monday evening. After a long but successful day at the practice Dr. Gomez and I met over zoom to discuss her overseas volunteer medical work. Within a few minutes I was captivated by Dr. Gomez’s stories. Throughout our meeting it was as if I was taking a trip alongside her.
We started off discussing her experiences working at a clinic in Nepal. I learned about the kids from the orphanage that the team of doctors treat and how one of the young girls she met while volunteering and proceeded to see on different trips went to school and even became a dentist. She kept every item Dr. Gomez had given her while working at the clinic in a special chest, that she one day revealed to Dr. Gomez.
We then began to discuss her experiences in Africa and the Middle East, Burundi and Jordan, more specifically. Her stories were quite honestly terrifying and heartbreaking to hear. She met a woman in Burundi who had been caught in the war between the Tutsi and Hutu people. She had lost everything. She had been attacked, mutilated, had her family killed, and was in exile from the community. Dr. Gomez told me another woman was crawling into the clinic in Jordan because her hip had been broken in the ongoing conflict. These stories are horrifying and what Dr. Gomez calls the worst part of her volunteer experiences; “people are simply cruel sometimes”. However, this led us to talking about how the best part of these experiences are the people she is able to meet, help, and work alongside.
Towards the end of our interview she told me a story about a girl named Prom. She had been in a family that was struggling to survive. Her family was led by their mother and she had younger siblings to care for as well. One of the youngest boys also had special needs. Dr. Gomez was able to help support the family and was even able to build a chicken coup for the youngest boy. Although family issues arose with the mother, Dr. Gomez was still able to support young Prom. She is now a happy, healthy young girl rocking out the classes at her boarding school!
Throughout all of her stories, Dr. Gomez’s genuine passion for caring for those around her is abundant. The joy that jumps out of her eyes and the smile that crosses her face when talking about caring not only for her patients overseas but for her team and family is radiant. Not only is she a true academic as one of the first doctors to be certified in Periodontic laser surgery and one of NY’s top doctors, but also she is a truly kind individual. As a woman hopeful to work in the medical field, Dr. Gomez is inspiring and someone I am happy to look to as a mentor for getting involved in volunteer medical work one day.