For four years in a row, Tzu Chi Singapore has been working with the Senior Citizens’ Executive Committee (SCEC) of Yuhua Community Club (CC) to provide free health screening and medical consultation for the local residents.
The committee, comprising of about 150 mostly retiree members, organizes more than 60 activities every year to promote active aging among senior residents.
Promoting the new “landmark” in Jurong
“328, Block 328. That’s right. Remember to have the seniors repeat after you so that they remember this address.”
That was Mr Ong Lye Hwee, chairman of the SCEC, speaking to his staff and volunteers before the health screening service starts at 10am on 3 July.
The “Block 328” that Mr Ong referred to is the location of the Tzu Chi Free Health Screening Centre which will be upgraded to a Free Clinic on 11 July 2011, providing not just health screening but also medical services at no cost to the public.
Reckoning that the day’s event is the best venue to make known the good news, Mr Ong hoped that the staff and volunteers would pass on the information to the residents as well as they can.
Mr Ong was leading the Healthy Living with the Sports division of Yuhua CC when his son, then a member of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association, introduced him to Tzu Chi in 2007. A casual inquiry from his son about the possibility for Tzu Chi to organize health screening in the Southwest district later precipitated into the first collaboration between Tzu Chi and Yuhua CC on 30 Sep that same year.
Prior to proposing the partnership, Mr Ong was rather apprehensive that the Yuhua grassroots leaders would turn down the idea given Tzu Chi’s religious and language background.
His worries were however unfounded as the collaboration went quite well and the three Malay nurses volunteering at the screening site that day on 3 July proved that religious differences is no barrier to serving society.
Siti, Khabibah and Farliah have been serving in the collaborated health screening every year. The trio said with one accord, “Helping people is our duty. We should reach out to everyone, regardless of race or religion.”
Attentive service warms hearts
Knowing that there is a health screening service going on in the neighbourhood that day, 84-year-old Yang Bao Rong arrived at Yuhua CC in the company of his domestic helper to seek dental consultation and treatment.
As the domestic helper does not speak much English, a Tzu Chi volunteer chipped in to help Mr Yang communicate with the dentist, translating from his native Hokkien.
The senior, whose teeth had almost all dropped out, has wittingly retained one of his wisdom teeth to help him chew his food. After a round of check up, the dentist found that his remaining teeth were seriously decayed and that food residue tends to remain in the gaps of his teeth.
The dentist, who is a member of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), slowly explained to Mr Yang the condition of his teeth and the pros and cons of getting the decayed ones extracted. Resisting the suggestion initially, Mr Yang finally conceded, thanks to the sincerity of the dentist.
Mr Yang had actually undergone cataract surgery three months ago but his eye condition seemed to deteriorate recently. Learning that eye consultation is also available that day, the senior happily proceeded to the eye division, under the accompaniment of a volunteer, to get his eyes checked.
Extremely pleased that he was able to have both his eyes and teeth checked on the same day, Mr Yang complimented, “The service is really good here. They explain things very clearly and make us feel assured.”
Poly students volunteer keenly
“When was the last time you had your eyes checked?” The same question was repeated by the 20 youths in the crowded eye examination room to every patient who came for consultation.
Though busy as bees, these fresh optometrists from the School of Chemical & Life Sciences of Singapore Polytechnic were all smiles throughout the performing of their tasks. Young as they were, they have been practicing with their teacher at the Optometry Centre of West Coast Community Centre for quite some time, which explained their composure and poise amidst their busy duty.
Ms Yeo Chwee Hong, the Optometry lecturer who led the group that day, wished that her students could be more well-rounded in both intellect and serving of the needy. That was why she contacted Tzu Chi when she heard about the health screening, hoping that her students could apply what they have learnt in class to better interact with the patients.
Safeguarding health in heartland
At 10.30am that day, Ms Grace Fu, MP for Jurong GRC (Yuhua Division), and the new CEO of Health Promotion Board, Mr Ang Hak Seng, arrived at the scene to cheer the residents and staff at each of the divisions.
According to event coordinator Brother Tan Boon Chong, Mr Ang hopes that Tzu Chi would continue to hold such large scale health screening and medical consultation each year to provide the needed health indicators for local residents.
Now that the new Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic is due to open, low-income residents discovered during the service could further be referred to the centre for further consultation.
Thanks to the effort of 213 Tzu Chi volunteers and TIMA members, a total of 784 residents were treated at the conclusion of the service at 5pm that day.