Mexico Outreach Brings Warmth in a Cold Winter

Tzu Chi Medical Foundation  |  December 11, 2019
Local and international volunteers join hands

Written by Mary Keh, Lee Shu Chin, Cisun Gao, Mingpei Cai
Translated by Audrey Cheng
Edited by Yao-yang Tang

Tzu Chi USA volunteers have kept their promise since the 2017 Mexico earthquake. Volunteers and TIMA members from the United States provided their eighth medical outreach in Mexico from November 15th to 24th, 2019. During that time, the US team trained Mexican medical volunteers and recruited local professionals to join TIMA Mexico to provide health care for their communities.

The Tzu Chi delegation hosted a large Tzu Chi Health Day at the Xochimilco Sports Park on Nov. 23th, 2019, to provide services in nutrition and health lectures, vegetarian booths, health care consultations in various departments of Chinese and Western medicine including ophthalmology and dentist consultations, health education, and free reading glasses.

Early in the morning, 150 local community people filled the park waiting for the Health  Day to start. The event kicked off with the Mexican National Anthem and the Anthem of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. Dr. Shirley Chen, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, spoke for the delegation to welcome the participants to the event. She conveyed Master Cheng Yen’s teaching – Love Without Borders. As usual, members of the Tzu Chi delegation flew to Mexico at their own expense and on their own time. Through the repeated outreaches, Tzu Chi volunteers and the local people have become family in a “Global Great Love Village.”

Local community's overwhelming participation at medical outreach
Funcaya Dental Foundation led by Gaby, a local dentist, participating in the outreach

International and Local Volunteers Join hands to Serve

Local Tzu Chi volunteers were joined by Mr. Claudio Cruz, CEO of the local Rotary Club, who led dentists and dental assistants and their own dental cleaning and extraction equipment to serve in the outreach. They also traveled with the Tzu Chi delegation from Morelos to Mexico City for the 3-day outreach. Members of the Funcaya Dental Foundation, led by Mexico City dentist Ms. Gaby, also participated in the medical outreach.

Trini is a government employee in Xochimilco and a local Tzu Chi volunteer. During the opening ceremony, she introduced Silvano, the director of the Mexico City Sports Park and Rosa Maria, the deputy director of the Cultural and Sports Park Management Office, and thanked them for making arrangements so that the Mexican Health Day campaign and the medical outreach could be held at this spacious park.

Volunteer Ken Nomura shared the spirit of Tzu Chi bamboo banks, diligence, frugality, and hardship, and he encouraged everyone to share their compassion, love, and happiness. The Mexican participants were deeply touched. Together, everybody followed the volunteers in signing We are a family with sign language to conclude a successful opening ceremony. The medical outreach and Health Day consultation services were then launched.

The demand for eyeglasses was as strong as ever. Not five minutes had passed after the opening ceremony when more than twenty villagers were already in the ophthalmic waiting area. Patricia Araceli, a local Mexican volunteer, had invited her daughter Maia Luna to help out at the optician area.

Dar Monica, Becerra is an obstetrician and gynecologist. Her colleague’s daughter Hanna is a student of Ken Nomura, the director of the Tzu Chi Mexico City. Hanna invited Dr. Monica to participated in this Tzu Chi event.

After several weeks’ efforts, Ken Nomura successfully invited six local doctors to participate in the medical consultation. Drs. Silvia Lopez, Monica Belerra, and Mexa each donated 500 pesos to support medical outreach in Mexico because they had been deeply moved by the fact that Tzu Chi delegates had come here at their own expense. They have applied to join the TIMA. Monod’s father, Dr. Rodriguez, a constant presence at the medical consultation services, has again shown up to volunteer his services.

Ms. Gaby, CEO of the Funcaya Dental Foundation, and her niece, who had brought a cute mouth model, learned how to perform oral health education from Tzu Chi volunteers. Afterward, the niece became an assistant in oral health education, and she immediately demonstrated to a group of young children how to brush their teeth and teach oral hygiene.

A little volunteer demonstrating teeth brushing to other children

Jorden, an acupuncturist from Seattle, has a female patient who is a Native American. When she learned that Jorden would be in Mexico for a week volunteering for the medical outreach, she donated money and gave Jorden a bright, semi-translucent black volcanic rock. She said, “Our people named it Apache Tears, which have always been sacred. They can be used to clean lakes and rivers, bring peace, and improve the effectiveness of treatment. Please take it to Mexico to those in need.”

A mother brought her four-year-old girl to the venue hoping that an acupuncturist might treat the girl’s asthma. She cried upon seeing the needles. Dr. Jorden remembered the Apache Tears and used the last remaining holy stone to massage the little girl on her chest area. That brought a smile to the little girl’s face. Jorden gave the mother the last holy stone, told her the source of the holy stone, and taught her the correct way to use it to soothe her daughter’s wheezing.

Jorden, an acupuncturist from Seattle, seeing a patient

Two years ago, Maria, a victim of the earthquake, received from Tzu Chi a cash card for emergency relief and a Tzu Chi bamboo bank at that time. For over a year, Maria has been looking out for Tzu Chi to donate her bamboo bank, which she had since filled with coins. Maria’s neighbors had learned about Tzu Chi’s outreach on social media and informed Maria. Therefore, Maria could finally fulfilled her wish to donate to Tzu Chi.

Three years of effort has helped Tzu Chi grow and expand in Mexico. Young local volunteers are focused and dedicated. They are steadfast in their selfless giving to the needy, and in the process, they have come to understand encouraging young volunteers to become strong in mind and attitude, in bringing Tzu Chi’s missions and to carry Tzu Chi’s footprint in Mexico, from the continuous selflessness to working without asking anything in return. The Master’s teaching: Nothing is permanent in life, so hold tight to the present moment and give back to society.