Nutrition is very important for everyone, but it is especially important for children because it is directly connected to all aspects of their growth and development; their health status today will affect their level of health as adults.
However, in a poor community like San Nicolas in Manila parents often end up neglecting their children’s health. Most of them say that if their child has a fever, coughs, or colds, they will just buy a medicine at the generic drugstore nearby instead of bringing them to the doctor.
Rachel Yarza, a mother of three, admits that her children’s health is not her priority.
“As much as I want to bring my children to the doctor for a check-up, our budget is enough only for our food. I have to first make sure that we have something to eat,” says Yarza.
Yarza’s husband is a pedicab driver and only earns Php150-200 a day. His salary is just enough for their food, water, and electricity bill.
On September 24, Tzu Chi Foundation held a medical mission in Pedro Guevarra Elementary School near where the Yarza family lives.
Yarza seized the chance to have two of her three children checked. Apart from asthma, the kids also suffer from fever on the said date.
“My children are having problem breathing. They also have coughs that make it hard for them to sleep,” says Yarza. “As a mother, it hurts to see my children suffer yet I can’t do anything for them. Knowing that we are financially incapable to provide the medical needs of our children makes me weak.”
That is why medical missions like Tzu Chi’s is a great help to the family. Yarza is not only grateful but also in awe with how Tzu Chi organized the free clinic.
“Medical mission like this one is amazing. Every department has doctors who specialize in different medical fields. This is actually the first time that my children will see a doctor. Thank you very much Tzu Chi Foundation for extending your compassion to us. You are really a blessing to all the families out there, most especially to parents like us who want their children to be check up by a doctor but don’t have enough money for that,” adds Yarza.
Meanwhile, Tzu Chi’s medical mission does not only give free medical check-ups and medicines, but also hope.
Helen Villanueva has a child who was born with an imperforated anus. Helen hopes that the doctors in the medical mission will check the condition of her daughter Nathalie and help them solve the problem that they have been carrying since her birth.
“When Nathalie is still a baby, she went through an operation using the colostomy method. However, she almost lost her life that time. That is why we decided not to continue with her second operation. Besides, we don’t have enough money for the second operation so we didn’t push through with it,” shares Villanueva.
But Nathalie is now nine years old and her condition is affecting her studies. Her classmates are bullying her. Nathalie’s self-esteem is also low, believing that she is not normal like children her age.
“Most of the time, when she goes home from school, she will come to me and tell me that her classmates are bullying her. As a mother, I get hurt to see my daughter in pain but we can’t do anything to lessen her burden,” adds Villanueva.
Right after her check-up with a Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctor, Nathalie was assisted by a Tzu Chi volunteer to the Social Service Department. What she needed is a major surgery but the medical mission only offers minor surgeries. Tzu Chi will assess the situation of Nathalie and her family and then determine what kind of aid to extend to her.
“The check-up that the doctor conducted to my daughter is a big help to us, the medicine also that they were giving for free. Tzu Chi Foundation is truly a blessing to every one’s lives, and we are lucky that we came across Tzu Chi. We are really blessed,” says Villanueva.
Berna Asido, a staff in the barangay hall of Barangay 285 in Manila, is delighted to see that a lot of her neighbors have received free medical consultations and medicines through Tzu Chi’s medical mission. As soon as they heard about the medical mission, Asido had immediately informed her neighbors.
“In a poverty-stricken place like ours, medical mission like this is a big help. I am really glad to see a lot of people receiving the generosity of Tzu Chi Foundation. They experienced being checked-up by a doctor and they even received free medicines, which are already a big deal for us. Tzu Chi Foundation offers quality service to all its patients. They are really genuine. Thank you very much!” says Asido.
As early as 6:00 am, the residents from around the Pedro Guevarra Elementary School in San Nicolas, Manila form a line while waiting for the gates of the said school to open. Mothers bring their children for a checkup at the medical mission.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctor advises Helen Villanueva what to do whenever her child, Nathalie, will release her faeces through her flank.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Aside from the free consultations, patients also received medicines and vitamins to ensure their continuous recovery. Rachel Yarza is grateful as she receives the free medicinesfor her children.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A volunteer doctor explains to the mother of a patient the importance of takingthe prescribed medicine on time in ensuring it effectively treats her child.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Free medicines and vitamins are available for the young patients after their consultations with the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) doctors.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A mother with her three children are all smiles as they gesture a thank you sign. She is happy that her children have been checked up by a doctor and have received free medicines and vitamins.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】