As part of their annual summer cultural exchange immersion program, 17 medical students, volunteers and 7 faculty staff from the Tzu Chi University (TCU) in Hualien, Taiwan visited the province of Bohol on July 20.
Upon arrival in the City of Friendship, as Tagbilaran City is called among tourists, the delegates proceeded to the Tzu Chi Operation Office. There, they received a warm welcome from the volunteers. Tzu Chi staff also presented a sign language of the song “Happy to Meet You.” Everyone danced together joyfully.
A short orientation was conducted which start with a presentation of Bohol Sutra afterwards, Tzu Chi volunteer Co Yee Lock presented stories of indigent Bohol locals who suffered from rare medical conditions and were helped by Tzu Chi Foundation with their surgeries or needed medical treatment.
20-year-old Rea Cristine Meredor from Garcia Hernandez was at the office on the day the visitors from Taiwan arrived. She suffers from arteriovenous malformation, a defect in the blood vessels that causes symptoms such as headache, confusion, and memory lapses.
As a doctor from Taiwan checked her condition and promised to provide the medical treatment that she needed, a smile was drawn on Rea’s face.
“They provided great courage as they instilled hopes to sick people. Truly, this is an opportunity for me to continue the normal life I have been dreaming of. My condition limits me from my dreams,” Rea said.
Compassionate service to patients in Maribojoc
With the purpose of showing the TCU medical students how Bohol chapter is carrying out Tzu Chi’s mission of medicine, a free clinic was held in Busao Elementary School in the municipality of Maribojoc.
Despite power loss, the medical students from Taiwan, Tzu Chi volunteers, and local medical volunteers extended services in the fields of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Minor Surgery, Dental, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dermatology.
Having a history of stroke, 49-year-old Rogelio Nalsaro went to the medical mission hoping to be free of the pain and numbness in his body, which he has been enduring for almost five years. Andersita Nalsaro, his wife, accompanied him.
“Thank you for extending such opportunity to be treated that usually only rich people can afford. After the Acupuncture, my husband can now move his feet and hands freely while I feel better,” Andresita said.
60-year-old Epifania Moncano who has cataract on her left eye also went to the mission. She brought along her grandson, Prince Noah, who has been enduring an ear problem for the past four months.
“They attended to our medical needs really well and I am very thankful for that. I am grateful especially that this mission was held here in Maribojoc,” said Moncano.
“I can say that the people here are very happy for this free clinic because we often don’t have anywhere to go to for treatment. It’s very expensive to go to the hospital and the clinics,” she added.
Busao Elementary School principal Rufina Nalzaro was initially anxious about holding the medical mission in their school.
“We only have a small area here in our school and only a few teachers. But when we began the registration for the patients, a lot came to register. That’s when I realized that we have to do the medical mission here because so many patients are in need of medical attention,” said Nalzaro.
Putting academic lessons into practice
Meanwhile, the students from Taiwan eased the fears of the young patients by playing with them. Despite the language barrier, the visiting students were able to make the children happy.
As aspiring medical practitioners, the students were also assigned to assist in different departments to learn and put into practice the knowledge they gained from school. Seeing how appreciative the people in Busao after the consultations and treatment, Taiwan students’ hearts were filled with gladness.
23-year-old Yung Ting Huang was glad to experience different means of helping the poor. According to her, the province of Bohol lacks medical facilities to treat the sick and poor residents, resulting to the deterioration of their medical conditions.
“After seeing these, I realized how pitiful the condition of the people is. They are really thankful that Tzu Chi had provide them with love and care,” she said.
The same goes with Lin Jhih-Chang, a first-year medical student. “It was an opportunity to assist our Taiwan doctors in conducting acupuncture to the people who have been suffering from illnesses for long due to poverty,” Lin said.