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Tzu Chi International Medical Association Helping Kids Live Their Lives

January 30, 2021 | Daniel Lazar

The Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) has been helping families who are not able to afford medical care on their own. With kids being particularly vulnerable, TIMA doctors have been dedicated to caring for children and helping them lead a normal life. Here we would like to share two of their success stories.

On January 26, Dr. Ma. Rebecca Abes-Servera conducted a pedia clinic at the Tzu Chi Foundation’s Eye Center. Assisted by resident doctors, she attended to six patients, among them three of Czarina Loterte's children.

Born prematurely, two of Czarina's children, Daphne, 9, and Daniel, 8, have to be constantly monitored by an ophthalmologist. Czarina regularly took her kids to their doctor at the East Avenue Medical Center, the only hospital that they could afford with Czarina’s income as a service crew and from the sari-sari store that they run.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, however, and East Avenue became a COVID-19 dedicated facility, the Loterte children had nowhere to go for their checkups. Nearly a year since they last saw an ophthalmologist, the kids began complaining of blurry vision.

Luckily, Daphne got accepted into Tzu Chi’s scholarship program, which paved the way for her mother to discover the Tzu Chi Eye Center. Czarina immediately brought the children for a checkup.

Danna, 16, and Daphne were each prescribed with a new pair of eye glasses. Daniel, on the other hand, was diagnosed with a retinal problem in his left eye. He was referred to one of Tzu Chi's volunteer retina specialists who could better monitor his condition.

Despite their poor eyesight, the Loterte siblings are diligent students who managed to consistently get good grades in school. TIMA volunteers want to help them so that they can continue to live a normal life and dream big dreams for their family.

Queen Eunice Inay is now six years and is attending grade school classes just like other kids her age. Six years ago, to be a school girl was one of the many things that Eunice's mother, Ruth, had feared her daughter may never be able to become.

Eunice was born prematurely, which caused abnormal blood vessels to grow in her retina – a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. In more severe cases, this condition could result in permanent vision loss. Luckily, Eunice was diagnosed with the condition early, making it possible for her parents to immediately seek medical attention and save her vision.

A team of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) ophthalmologists led by Dr. Antonio Say, a retina specialist, closely monitored Eunice's condition. Eunice was just a little babe back then. When she turned one, Eunice received a pair of eye glasses prescribed by TIMA Dr. Catherine Macaraig, a pediatric ophthalmologist. This helped maintain and correct Eunice's vision.

At the age of three, Eunice learned to read. As the years passed, her vision continued to improve.

To this day, Tzu Chi continues to take care of Eunice, providing her with regular consultation and medical advice. Her family is immensely touched. “Tzu Chi is such a blessing to our family,” Eunice's mother, Ruth, said.