Tzu Chi Medical Volunteers Deliver Care to Those in Need in the Dominican Republic

TIMA  |  January 11, 2019

Medical outreach is of the utmost importance in places such as the Dominican Republic. In cities such as La Romana where many disadvantaged residents have no access to medical or dental care, Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s volunteers bring relief to those suffering from a variety of ailments.

Longtime Tzu Chi volunteer Debbie Chen has been to the Dominican Republic countless times, so many that she refers to it as a second home, a place where she is grateful to be able to bring relief to those needing it most, some who have never seen a doctor or dentist.

In the beginning, the children were very reluctant to even speak or open their mouths because they had a lot of cavities. Now, they flash a bright smile with their bright teeth. It’s a completely different scene now.

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Tzu Chi volunteers including Rosa Chang visit the area once a month visiting different families in order to get to know them and others in the community so they can assess their medical needs. They come along with volunteer doctors such as Doctor Han who freely gives of his time to help the residents.

I am proud and honored to join this good event to see all the patients. I spend as much time as I want to relieve some of their pain and suffering.

During one particular visit to a patient with Parkinson’s disease, volunteers found out that the daughter of the patient needed immediate care more than the mother. The daughter had a badly infected leg that was being neglected because she was unaware of the severity of the problem. Because of the lack of medical care, the woman used local remedies and covered up the wound not realizing it could get much worse. According to Chang, there was a possibility the daughter could lose her leg.

Chang said she is consistently concerned whether the patients are taking their medicine and, if they are, whether they are taking it correctly or taking the right amount. Are they caring for their wounds? As volunteers, Chang’s concern goes beyond the visits. She and all the other medical volunteers want to ensure the patients get the care they need and provide a positive outlook that disadvantaged patients might lack.

All of our volunteers—they are not rich; they are poor as well...They see that we give all these poor families a lot of foods, and I know that they don’t have a lot of foods themselves. But I always tell them, 'Remember you have your hands. You are healthy, you can help, and you have a job every month. You have a good family. Nobody is sick in the family, and that is more important.'

While it can be exhausting, the work Chang and the other volunteers do is very important They know they have much to give and are honored to do so.