Since young, Lim Ying Yin, a medical graduate from University of Malaysia (UM), has always wanted to help the needy. When she first learnt of Tzu Chi from her mother who is into Buddhism, she started participating in its collegiate youths' events in UM and helped to care for children with disabilities.
Due to the hectic schedule of juggling both her studies and internship, she only thought of devoting her time to volunteer with Tzu Chi again upon commencing work at a hospital in Singapore. She sent an email to Tzu Chi Singapore to sign up as a volunteer and was subsequently introduced to its TIMA network.
A smile makes it all worthwhile
After taking part in two free clinics in Sri Lanka organized by Tzu Chi Singapore, Ying Yin felt that Tzu Chi volunteers are great individuals.
Prior to the mission, she was shown pictures of the location where they were going to be working – a rural place which is dirty and messy. Upon reaching, she was surprised at the condition of the place, which appeared to be totally different from her impression – she was actually standing in a neat and clean place, with portable air conditioners set up by the "amazing Tzu Chi volunteers".
"They had spent lots of time, patience and care in the preparation and transportation of the equipments. This would not have been possible without the assistance from the vast number of volunteers," said Ying Yin.
Ying Yin was allocated work assisting in the general consultation ward during the free clinic. During her course of work, she came into contact with many children who were born with illnesses and mothers who came with children suffering from genetic disorders.
She remembered a patient who was suffering from severe burn injuries. He was unable to move his neck when he came to the free clinic and was transferred to the surgical department immediately.
"The patient was elated when he could move his neck after the dead burnt skins were removed," recalled Ying Yin. "Seeing the happiness on his face makes me forget the entire day's exhaustion."
Tears fell uncontrollably as Ying Yin shared her experiences at this year's TIMA Conference held in Hualien, Taiwan from 9 to 13 Sept.
After Ying Yin started working, she discovered that there is a gap between reality and her ideals. No matter how hard she pushed herself, all she received were blames while her hard work and efforts went unacknowledged.
For a prolonged period of time, Ying Yin could not adapt to the fact that patients and their family tend to vent their frustration on the doctors. Just when she thought that her hopes of giving were dashed, she met TIMA and realized her dream of travelling to impoverished countries to cure the sick and poor.
Now aged 26, Ying Yin said she has found her direction in life. She is currently a grey uniformed volunteer and assists in the Tzu Chi Free Clinic service regularly. Ying Yin hopes to enhance her skills and abilities by becoming a specialist so that she would be able to provide more assistance to people in need. She aims to don the blue-white uniform of Tzu Chi in future and take on heavier responsibilities.
An overseas mission that touches the heart
In 2004, Sister Linda Pang participated in her first Tzu Chi free clinic in Indonesia's Batam Island. When she came into contact with the numerous patients who were suffering from illnesses rarely seen in Singapore, it dawned upon her the greatness of the love that Tzu Chi volunteers were constantly giving and decided then that she would join TIMA and devote herself to more volunteer work.
"An advance country may not lack resources, but there would always be a lack of humanity, which is an important aspect in our society today." Sister Linda, now the convener of TIMA Singapore, looked upon it as her mission to instil the humanity aspect into each medical personnel in TIMA Singapore through practical actions.
To encourage humanity in Singapore
Sister Linda had aspired to build a strong and united volunteer team when she took up the role of TIMA convener last year. She made use of the Tzu Chi bimonthly magazine, Jing Si publications and video materials to spread and share the knowledge and ideals of Tzu Chi to the TIMA volunteers during the monthly Free Clinic service. As time goes by, it slowly helped to bring the team closer – more united and determined as a team to help the needy.
"It is important to make a trip back to the Taiwan headquarters to attend the annual TIMA conference if we want to build a strong medical team in Singapore," said Sister Linda. There was a total of 33 medical volunteers who travelled from Singapore to Taiwan to participate in this year's conference.
In order to encourage more volunteers to take part in the annual event, Sister Linda specially arranged for get-together sessions in the community to share experiences and exchange knowledge with the volunteers even on her days off.
In May this year, Sister Linda invited more than 90 TIMA volunteers to take part in the Buddha Day ceremony held in Singapore's Yio Chu Kang stadium. She also took the pain to gather videos on various medical role models to show to the TIMA members.
"I remember my subordinates used to be afraid of me as I was a stern and strict head nurse," said Sister Linda, somewhat bashfully. "After joining TIMA, I came to understand that medical humanity actually means to feel what our patients feel and the ability to comfort them with empathy."
Sister Linda is hopeful of the future and hopes that the TIMA members who attended the conference would share what they have witnessed and learnt with their fellow TIMA members at home. She wishes that there will be more medical personnel devoting their time to Tzu Chi's medical mission next year.