When a group works together with united hearts, harmony, mutual love, and joint efforts they can achieve great things.
Tzu Chi Philippines’ volunteers, doctors, and nurses proved this when they held the foundation’s 229th Medical and Surgical Mission at the San Mateo National High School in Rizal on November 30. Through everyone’s dedication and sincerity, the mission provided medical care to 2,184 patients across seven departments namely: General Medicine, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology, Minor Surgery, Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT), Dental, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and Origin Point Therapy.
In sum, 330 Tzu Chi volunteers and 120 doctors and nurses pitched in effort for the mission.
Among the band of Tzu Chi volunteers were local residents of San Mateo, Rizal.
Tzu Chi’s affinity with the San Mateo people began in 2012 in the aftermath of the flooding brought by the monsoon rains. Tzu Chi conducted cash and food-for-work program as well as distributed relief aid to affected families. Since then, many of the locals turned their lives around and became Tzu Chi volunteers.
This is the second year that Tzu Chi held a large-scale medical mission in the said town.
The sun has yet to rise but patients were already waiting at the mission venue. Tzu Chi volunteers get to work, organizing the queue of patients, and making some last-minute preparations.
According to Veneranda Funtaniel, 48, a volunteer from Barangay Banaba, they have gained many lessons from last year’s medical mission, which helped them organize the event better this time. For instance, in anticipation of a large crowd of patients, more local volunteers have come this year to help out.
“Every department, there are volunteers who are designated [to guide the patients to the registration areas]. We are working together in assisting the patients to ensure the organized flow of the lines,” said Funtaniel.
There are also volunteers assigned to tasks like response, logistic, livelihood, department support, and crowd control. A group of environmental protection volunteers also regularly roam to collect recyclable materials, maintain the cleanliness of the venue, and promote recycling.
At the venue, the volunteers also cooked and served hot vegetarian soup for the patients using Tzu Chi’s Mobile Kitchen. “Most of the patients arrived very early and had nothing for breakfast so we prepared food for them to keep their bellies warm,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Leung Ming Lan.
Among the volunteer medical workers present during the mission is Dr. Francisco Pua Jr., owner of the San Mateo Doctors’ Hospital. Over at the Minor Surgery department, he performed surgical operations for hours, pro-bono, even instructing the patients to visit him at his clinic for their needed post-operation check-ups – all for free.
“It’s a good thing that we have Tzu Chi to support us. The local government could not support [the medical needs of the community] alone. The indigent patients from San Mateo would really benefit from these services so I’m just quite supportive of [Tzu Chi’s] programs for a fact that they have no other agenda than to serve,” said Dr. Pua.
In carrying out their tasks, volunteers made sure to wear their most accommodating smiles. “There are some patients, such as in the Dental Department, who are afraid of tooth extractions and needles, so in order to calm them down somehow, the volunteers who greet them as they arrive should be smiling,” explained Tzu Chi volunteer Funtaniel.
And smiles did prevail in every corner of the mission venue, even in the washrooms.
The group of Tzu Chi volunteer Dina Globa, 46, is one of the two designated to keep the washrooms clean. The task did not fall on them randomly. They actually volunteered to do it.
“Although we were assigned in the washroom, we give all our heart to serve the patients. When you are dedicated in serving, you wouldn’t mind how easy or tiring a task is,” said Globa.
The sweet smiles of the patients throughout the mission show how much they appreciate the volunteers’ efforts.
Tzu Chi volunteers prepare vegetarian soup for the patients. 【Photo by Scooper Ong】
Tzu Chi volunteer Leung Ming Lan says providing the patients with food will keep their bellies warm especially since most of them left their homes very early and without breakfast in order to get to mission venue first. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteers serve the soup to the patients awaiting their turn to see a doctor. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】
A group of volunteers roam the venue to maintain cleanliness and environmental protection.【Photo by Caroline Uy】
Dr. Francisco Pua Jr., a general surgeon and owner of the San Mateo Doctors’ Hospital, performed free surgeries throughout the medical mission. 【Photo by Scooper Ong】
San Mateo local Tzu Chi volunteer Veneranda Funtaniel greets patients arriving at the medical mission with her most accommodating smile. She says this is the volunteers’ way of making the patients feel at ease despite their fears and worries about their illnesses.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Tzu Chi volunteer Dina Globa of Barangay Tumana in Marikina City is one of the volunteers assigned to keep the washrooms clean. For her, no task is small, easy, or difficult as long as one puts his heart into it. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
A volunteer ensures the cleanliness of the washroom for the patients who will use it. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】