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Restoring Bright Smiles to MINDS Beneficiaries

Providing dental treatment to the intellectually disabled is not an easy feat. On 10th December 2017, a TIMA dental team held its annual free dental clinic for 24 beneficiaries from MINDS Singapore.

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A dentist checks the teeth of a MINDS patient, while another dentist holds his hand to calm his anxious feelings. (Photo by Huang Qian Yi)

On 10th December 2017, an 8-member volunteer team comprising dental professionals from the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) and volunteers from Tzu Chi Singapore provided free dental services to 24 beneficiaries from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) at the Tzu Chi Free Clinic in Redhill.

At around 11.30am in the morning, the dental team and volunteers arrived at the Free Clinic to set up the venue. They came prepared with caps adorned with cute plush animals, and wore them on their heads as they extended a heart-warming welcome to the MINDS patients. Then, the helpful volunteers guided the patients and their accompanying family members to their seats, and served them tea and snacks in an atmosphere of warmth and care.

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TIMA’s dental team members and volunteers line up on both sides of the corridor to give a rousing welcome to the MINDS patients as they arrive. (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

No Longer Fearful of Dental Visits

While the MINDS patients were waiting to see the dentists, a magician arrived on the scene.

“Everyone, look at my empty hands. This box is empty, too…...”

The magician invited a volunteer from the awaiting patients to place a cover on the box and then reopen it. Seeing the contents which had somehow magically appeared in the box, the patient exclaimed in surprise: “There are two coins inside!” The fun-filled, live magic show helped to calm the anxious feelings of the patients.

“Ah Teck” and “Ah Soon”, the two mascots for Tzu Chi’s “Save for a Good Cause” campaign, also made an appearance. They livened up the atmosphere together with a group of Tzu Chi collegiate volunteers, encouraging everyone present to save a little each day to help those in need.

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“Save for a Good Cause” mascots “Ah Teck” and “Ah Soon” rousing the atmosphere in the clinic while urging everyone to save a little each day to help the needy (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

“I believe there is love in the world worth waiting for…”

When the familiar tune of the Tzu Chi song, “Love in the World”, started playing, one of the MINDS patients started following the sign language of the song, and even wrote a heart-warming thank you note to the dental team and all the volunteers after that.

Mdm Zeng Wang Niang, who accompanied her son to clean his teeth at the free dental clinic, said, “The teachers brought him here the first time, but this time, I decided to accompany him. I’m very happy to see the dedication and thoughtfulness of the volunteers and doctors.”

After Mdm Zeng’s son had completed his treatment, he even gave simple words of encouragement to other patients who were awaiting their treatments.

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Upon coming across residents who were reluctant to seek treatment, Mdm Zeng Wang Niang (1st from left) and her son would give them simple words of encouragement. (Photo by Huang Qian Yi)

Mr Chen Song Jia, the father of another MINDS patient, expressed his delight with all the arrangements: “The atmosphere is really lively, and the doctors and volunteers are very caring and patient. I’m very satisfied with the service.”

Living a Full Life Through Serving Others

Ms S. Nalani, who has 32 years’ experience as a registered nurse, was invited to participate in the free dental clinic together with her daughter, R. Anueshree, a Biomedical Science student. They said that they always spent their Sundays watching TV, and that instead of pursuing pleasure, it would be more meaningful to spend the time engaging in a meaningful activity.

Although they were both first-timers, Nalani and her daughter felt the warm hospitality of Tzu Chi volunteers, as if they were all of one family.

“This is our first experience, and we are unfamiliar with many things. But the volunteers are really passionate in aiding our understanding.”

Nalani even signed herself up for volunteer service at the Tzu Chi Free Clinic on the following Sunday.

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Nalani (1st from right) and her daughter, R. Anueshree (middle), took part in the free dental clinic together. (Photo by Huang Qian Yi)

Dr. Mo Wan Ru is a veteran in treating special needs patients. Even though she had a full schedule in her own medical practice, she still managed to squeeze out two precious hours to serve at the free dental clinic, where she shared her wealth of experiences with her fellow doctors. “I hope to use my professional training in the service of those in need within our society,” said Dr. Mo.

“Do you know why you must brush in a circular motion? Do remember to brush between the gums and the teeth!”

Dr. Su Yu Jie patiently and carefully explained the correct technique of brushing teeth to the patients. This was his fourth experience in volunteering at the free dental clinic for MINDS beneficiaries. He collected a Tzu Chi bamboo coin bank after the event, and even planned to rope in his own colleagues to join him in saving for a good cause.

Four hours later, the free dental clinic was brought to a fruitful completion, and the MINDS beneficiaries and their family members left the venue with bright smiles on their faces.

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Dr Su Yu Jie (first from left), who is in his fourth volunteering experience with Tzu Chi’s free dental clinic for MINDS beneficiaries, explaining oral hygiene to a patient (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

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