Subject:    Second Round of US Students Depart for Cuba to Study Medicine

Date:         Thu, 16 Aug 2001 20:05:27 -0400

From:        ifco <>

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News Release

For Immediate Release   Contact:  212/926-5757, 646/319-5902 or 646/319-5901

IFCO/Pastors for Peace

August 16, 2001


Second Round of US Students to Depart for Cuba to Enroll in Medical Study Program

On Monday, August 20 twenty-eight more youth from eight US states will depart for Havana, Cuba to begin a six-year medical school program. The 28 students will join the 11 others who have already begun their medical studies for a total of 39 US students who have now taken advantage of Fidel Castro’s offer to provide 500 free medical school scholarships for US students. In addition to the US students, there are currently 5,000 students from 23 countries throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa studying medicine at Cuba’s Latin American School of Medical Sciences under a similar offer.

The offer to train US students was first extended by Cuban President Fidel Castro during a June 2000 Congressional Black Caucus delegation organized by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace. The offer was reiterated during a speech President Castro made at New York’s Riverside Church in September 2001 while in the US attending the UN Millennium Summit.

“We are prepared to grant a number of scholarships to poor youth who cannot afford to pay the $200,000 it costs to get a medical degree in the US,” said President Castro.

Under the offer students will receive free tuition, room, board and textbooks all free of charge. In exchange each student has committed to practice medicine in an underserved community upon their return to the United States.

“I feel privileged to have been chosen to be a part of this program,” said Toussaint Reynolds, 23, an Emergency Medical Technician from Massapequa, NY. “Working with doctors, I feel that many of them lack the compassion that I think is important to bring to medical care. Studying medicine in Cuba will reinforce my convictions about the importance of patient care.”

Serving as the primary recruitment center for the scholarship program is a natural link with IFCO’s history according to IFCO Executive Director Rev. Lucius Walker. “IFCO is a 34-year-old ecumenical agency committed to working with poor communities to train and empower residents to improve the lives of the people in their communities. This medical school scholarship program is aimed at educating and serving residents of those same poor communities that IFCO has worked with over he past three decades.”

The third round of students are scheduled to depart for the Caribbean island next February.

IFCO/Pastors for Peace

402 W 145th Street, New York City, NY 10031

212-926-5757; fax: 212-926-5842; email:;