Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jan 25th
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Home Our Missions Mission of Education Ten Years of Healing - Indonesia

Ten Years of Healing - Indonesia

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Ten Years of Healing
A TIMA doctor
What keeps them going?
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In 2003, Tzu Chi Indonesia built Great Love Village I for people who had been living in illegally built dwellings along the Angke River. As with previous Tzu Chi villages elsewhere, this one offered an on-site clinic to care for the health of the residents. Now in its fifth year, the clinic has been upgraded to a small hospital staffed by TIMA physicians. They continue to serve patients from the village, but also help those in need from outside as well, regardless of where they live.

There are some vacant residential units in the village set aside as temporary quarters for out-of-town patients and their companions, much like a small-scale Ronald McDonald's House. This has saved patients from outside the village a great deal of time and transportation costs.

Qiu Shuang-ying (丘雙英) is a Tzu Chi volunteer from Indonesia. He says that Indonesia's country districts usually have only small clinics, and those are usually staffed by the most recent medical school graduates. The new doctors, still wet behind the ears, have little firsthand experience with patients and are equipped to treat only the mildest ailments. Anything more serious, such as cataracts, hernias, and thyroid tumors, must be referred to larger medical facilities in nearby cities--which presents a whole new set of challenges.

Just to get to and from the cities for medical care presents a problem to the poor. Although they work hard day in and day out, they can barely eke out a living. Any time not working is time off without pay. They can't afford to be ill. To them, getting sick is a luxury reserved only for the rich.

Although big cities provide medical subsidies to the poor, such financial aid is scarce, highly selective, and time-consuming. There are just too many poor folks competing for the same slice of the pie. It's not surprising that relatively few people obtain medical care this way. Most of the poor simply go without treatment and suffer.

In response to this deplorable situation, TIMA volunteers in Jakarta, Makassar, and Bandung have held 76 free clinics in the past nine years. More than 80,000 patient visits have been made by those most in need in Indonesia. In addition, in 2006 volunteers started a five-year project to tackle childhood malnutrition and promote planned parenthood. Once a month, volunteers go to Great Love Village I and distribute milk powder and vitamins to more than 200 undernourished children. Volunteer Qiu said, "I am thrilled to see the kids gain weight by leaps and bounds."

This is compassion in action, helping to alleviate the suffering of those most unable to get help any other way.

TIMA Singapore has been working with local communities to provide services in both Western and Chinese medicine. Cases are referred to the Tzu Chi Free Clinic for further treatment if necessary. Tzu Chi volunteers serve patients with the utmost personal attention and care. For example, after a free clinic, if need be, volunteers make home visits to patients and make sure that all is well.

Some TIMA physicians suggested offering surgery in addition to health check-ups during free clinics. Qiu Jian-yi (邱建義), coordinator of TIMA Singapore, acknowledged the validity of such suggestions, but local laws made it impossible for association members to perform surgery at clinic sites. Undaunted, they carried on without surgery--which proved to have unexpected benefits. Without the possibility of surgery, doctors grew to appreciate the true significance of check-ups and in-depth consultations. Through those sorts of services, they were able to unearth additional complaints or ailments not initially revealed to them. The doctors discovered that once patients became comfortable with them, they would begin to open up and talk more.

The United States
Tzu Chi members in the United States have been providing medical services to the disadvantaged for a long time. The Free Clinic in Los Angeles was opened 15 years ago, long before TIMA was officially established. Dentistry, internal medicine, and Chinese medicine have recently been added to the center's menu at reduced rates. Their hope is to help alleviate patients physical pains while lightening the impact on their pocketbooks at the check-out counter.

Zhang Fu-ju (張福助) is a doctor of Chinese medicine who has practiced in California for two decades. He observed that there are many illegal Mexican residents in the region with no access to medical help. Over the years, TIMA USA has been providing services to help them. Chen Xin-gong (陳新恭) is another Tzu Chi doctor who specializes in Chinese medicine. He pointed out that medical care is financially out of reach for many people in the United States, even though it is considered a wealthy nation. This fact is not lost on Tzu Chi people in that country. They are doing their best to bring their services to those who need it.

Zeng Ci Hui (曾慈慧), deputy CEO of the Tzu Chi Medical Mission in the United States, observed that the increasing number of patients at the free clinics organized by the foundation in that country reflects a society under financial siege. She said that TIMA USA is planning to step up its efforts to partner with local social service departments and medical facilities to deliver medical assistance to more people under stress. It is currently working with hospitals in the Los Angeles area to help females facing unplanned pregnancies.


The Beauty of the Jing Si Abode


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Jing-Si Aphorism

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