Written by Minyuan Lu
ZH Edited by Chenglin Li
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska
Following the resumption of free clinics for residents in the Bakersfield area of Central California in May this year, Tzu Chi USA initiated the second round of clinics on August 21, 2022. The volunteers who participated were so enthusiastic that they filled up the registration quota quickly before the start of the event. As a result, the 56-seater bus transporting volunteers to the clinic site at Golden Valley High School was full when departing, and more than 20 doctors and volunteers had to drive to the location independently.
Teams Without Rehearsals and Commands
That morning, janitors at Golden Valley High School forgot the time and hurried to open the doors shortly before the bus arrived, although the free clinic area was still just a cafeteria. Tzu Chi volunteers had to rush to set up the venue as quickly as possible. After getting off the bus, they put their belongings aside and spontaneously took up their respective preparatory work without delay. There was no rehearsal, no command, and no comments. Amid laughter, they completed the clinic set up on time.
Mobilizing the Whole Family to Volunteer
The free clinic was beneficial not only to the patients but also to the volunteers who provided medical services. Dentist Dr. Phu Truong has brought his two daughters, An and Tu, to participate in free clinics for years. Having seen their parents engage in community service since they were young, the girls vow to give back to the community after they finish their studies.
An Truong has volunteered with her father since eighth grade. She, her mother, and her sister Tu helped out during registration for dental care services at this free clinic.
Her sister Tu has volunteered with Tzu Chi for four years, usually helping with dental care registration, check-in, and check-out. She said happily, “In the future, I hope to become a doctor and still volunteer with Tzu Chi and continue to bring smiles to everyone.”
Volunteering Joyfully With Good Reason
Local volunteer Paulina Ramirez, who helped with translation, thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for coming to help disadvantaged community members without insurance and hoped that more patients would come to see a doctor next time. She was once a free clinic patient herself and was especially grateful for Tzu Chi’s care for chronic patients: “My husband has a problem with high cholesterol. You sent him medicine during the pandemic and provided such good care. Thank you, Tzu Chi, for taking care of us patients.”
Paulina’s daughter, Berenice Lopez, is in fifth grade this year. She accompanied her mother to help with translation, simultaneously learning to overcome her shyness. When her father was getting dental treatment, she was the best bridge between her dad and the dentist. It was then that she realized it’s not hard at all to be a volunteer.
Bernice enjoyed her volunteer experience immensely, saying, “It’s great to be able to translate here. I just want to say thank you. Although sometimes I get nervous and a little scared, I want to tell everyone that people always help each other, so never give up. It’s not difficult to be a volunteer. As long as you get over challenges and get used to them, everything feels great.”
Patient Noe Mojarro came to the clinic on crutches. Two years ago, he accidentally fell down some stairs and broke a bone. Although he had surgery, his ankle was still swollen and painful, so he came to seek the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments.
The orderliness of the free clinic left first-time participating volunteer Yang Meng in awe. She was taking her daughter to a Tzu Chi free clinic for the first time, too, and found that no matter whether doctors or volunteers, even if they had not taken part in such an event before, they organized quickly and worked in an orderly manner. This kind of environment can inspire young people and she hopes her children will continue the legacy and contribute to Tzu Chi.
Providing care takes effort, but it’s a joy when you put your heart into it and feel that warmth of compassion put into action.