Ever since the Buddhist Tzu Chi Free Clinic extended its Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) services from just Sundays to 5.5 days per week from 13 November 2011, numerous TCM practitioners and volunteers had come forth to play their part in taking care of the public’s health. It involves a rotation of shifts amongst the 90 volunteers for the TCM free clinic which now operates 5.5 days a week.
To mark the start of the new spring, the personnel and volunteers of the TCM team got together on 4 February for a heartwarming gathering session during the Chinese New Year 2012. After enjoying a delicious vegetarian lunch, the 33 TCM volunteers started to practise using the ‘One Family’ sign languages and sharing their thoughts of being a TCM volunteer and developing the team spirit.
“It is always another fulfilling day whenever we close the daily clinic operations,” said the pharmacist Brother Lim Chor Oor, who had been serving the community as a volunteer for more than ten years and has deep empathy for those suffering from illnesses especially the elderly.
Upon hearing of the commencement of Tzu Chi’s TCM outpatient services, the 58-year-old quickly registered himself as a volunteer of the team without further hesitation. He hoped to be able to reach out to those in need through his participation as a volunteer for Tzu Chi Free Clinic. Brother Lim expressed that every little task performed for those in need, however small and simple, and knowing that the patient could finally rest well after taking the Free Clinic’s prescription, makes him happy.
Many years ago when Brother Lock Meng Swee watched a short broadcast of the rescue efforts of Tzu Chi for a disaster struck nation through Taiwan’s CtiTV news, it touched him deeply. Since then, he tried to learn more about the various services that Tzu Chi offers to the community. When the 75-year-old received the invitation to join the TCM free clinic team, he immediately accepted the role of pharmacist without hesitation.
Brother Lock regretted that he had spent most of his earlier life being too career-minded and only started to take up TCM course after he managed to establish a comfortable lifestyle. He hopes to be spiritually enlightened and to put what he has learnt to good use in helping the sick and needy. He was grateful that he was able to witness and experience the different facets of life, be it happiness or sadness, by engaging as a volunteer at the Free Clinic.
“I hope to be able to help those in need as much as possible while I am still healthy and living,” expressed Brother Lock. He also encouraged the younger team members to be actively involved in more volunteer work to play a part for the community and those in need.
From someone who had zero knowledge of how to operate a computer to someone able to eventually manoeuvre it at ease was Sister Tan Kin Hong. Her current role in the TCM free clinic involves her carrying out registration for the patients. She is gratified that there were a lot of senior volunteers who had treated her with care and concern and provided her a chance to learn how to use the computer. Now that Sister Tan had managed to catch up with the technology age, she is also able to watch the Da Ai TV channel via online streaming.
Through the invitation of Sister Li Guo Xiang, who is one of her close friends and also a volunteer at the Free Clinic, Sister Tan Sock Joo took up the job of performing registration at the counter every Thursday and Friday. Sister Tan took up the responsibility for a simple reason – to live up to Master Cheng Yen’s teaching of “enjoying simple happiness when you are willing to work”.
Whenever the TCM free clinic receives praises from patients for having “even better services than commercial clinics”, Sister Tan will be very happy that she is able to accomplish something good and be part of such a fantastic team of volunteers.
“The strength of unity could not be demonstrated had there not been a group of selfless volunteers who came together to devote their efforts and time to make the community a better place to live in.” Volunteer Tan Siang Ing pronounced that she was truly touched by the closeness that was shown between Tzu Chi’s medical practitioners and volunteers, which was akin to that of a family. She felt that the patients were usually very easily satisfied and seem to suffer less pain when they are treated with smiles or having someone there to lend a listening ear.
The person-in-charge of the TCM volunteers – Sister Nancy Chew and Sister Li Guo Xiang are both appreciative of the dedication and devotion of the volunteer team in performing their roles and responsibilities. Sister Li wished for the team to not only strive in aiding the medical personnel with the physical healthcare but also to do a good job in tending to the patients’ spiritual needs.
Tzu Chi Free Clinic’s resident TCM doctor Brother Lai Hin Wai said that every role played by each individual of the TCM team is important in producing a well and fully functional TCM clinic. He went on to share the story of a patient who was feeling extremely down and even cried when she first came to the TCM free clinic. However, after a few more rounds of visits to the free clinic, not only was the patient cured, she was also much more jovial than before.
Brother Lai felt that to cure a patient fully is not just by taking care of their physical well-being, but also to mend their emotional health. Thus, he hopes that more like-minded individuals would come together and play their part in the TCM free clinic.
Master Cheng Yen advised everyone through the broadcasted ‘Life Wisdom’ video, ‘A New Life, A New Beginning’, that we should all rid ourselves of bad thinking from time to time and be steadfast in carrying out our duties and responsibilities in order to be free in both heart and mind. Everyone should repent on their past wrong-doings and learn from their mistakes, to treat everyone equally and with respect and sincerity so that we could live with peace and happiness daily.
Lastly, the celebration gathering ended by having everyone participating in the singing of the song ‘Love and Care’ and wishes everyone on Earth with good health and to have more individuals coming forward to dedicate themselves to being part of the Tzu Chi Free Clinic team.