More Than a Prescription: The TIMA Approach

TIMA  |  January 11, 2019

There is a quiet beauty to Tzu Chi’s medical relief missions.

The free clinics and outreaches the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (or TIMA) hosts after a disaster strikes allow a diverse team of medical volunteers to connect with an equally diverse group of patients. Each comes from a different culture, set of beliefs, customs, and, languages, but hardship is something everyone at an outreach has in common.

After the September 2017 earthquake struck the heart of the country, smaller villages, alongside the capital of Mexico City, were deeply affected.

Three months later, Tzu Chi USA’s earthquake relief and TIMA’s medical mission came to some of them, including the town of Tlaquiltenango, Morelos. There, we hosted both a cash card distribution and a free medical outreach for local residents. We were touched by the kindness of the patients we saw, as well as the compassionate souls who worked to help them.

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Our medical team was particularly taken with the sweetness of Clotilde Lagunas, a Tlaquiltenango elder. She calmly described the moment her own roof come crashing down on her.

The earthquake threw me down with a lot of force and I was completely disoriented…I was injured. The metal roof of my house fell on my head.

Clotilde gave her blessings to everyone in our medical team for helping her get the medical care she needed. We were sad to discover: she had no other family to rely on.

“No, I haven’t gone to the doctor until now. Today is the first time…I usually don’t have any kind of help,” she explains.

It’s situations like these that prove why TIMA’s services and signature, compassionate care is so valuable. Even Dr. Chien Sou-Hsin, from TIMA Taiwan, says caring for someone’s spirit is just as critical as caring for their body.

We don’t only focus on treating wounds, or just tend to chronic diseases, or relieving acute headaches; it’s more about soothing their pain.

He also acknowledged the door of opportunity that swings open every time a medical relief event of this nature occurs. Local volunteer doctors and staff are invited to join, igniting the spirit of humanitarianism at the local level. Tlaquiltenango doctor Julio César Oliveros, who joined the medical outreach, seemed to agree.

Having been born here then experiencing September 19, we wanted to contribute, adding our ‘little grain of salt.’ I convinced my colleagues and told them about this medical relief event, and all of us gladly helped out.

The goal of TIMA’s work is one that transcends medical care itself. In his vast medical relief experience- Tlaquiltenango being just one of them- Dr. Chien insists “it’s about so much more than just surgery or writing a prescription.”  Instead, it’s about giving hope, like to wonderful people like Erlinda Leiba, another Tlaquiltenango elder.

It’s difficult for us because we come from farms, and we’re poor and barely have food…It means so much to have people care about us.

There is much to do to improve the health and spirit of communities around the world. Learn more about our Mexico Earthquake Relief efforts and support our mission to bring health and hope to those in need just like Clotilde and Erlinda.