Michael Ma is a longtime dedicated dentist who not only had his own practice, for more than 20 years he devoted time to the Tzu Chi permanent free dental clinic in El Monte, California. His commitment to helping those who are underprivileged was sparked by a colleague, Dr. Richard Chang.
Dr. Chang was the one who originally invited Ma to join Tzu Chi’s free health clinic back in 1994. Ma was happy to be able to help and provide his services once a week.
The years fly by in the blink of an eye but the volunteer dentists continue to provide their much-needed services to many who might not be able to receive important dental care and services for lack of insurance and finances.
Dental care is often overlooked by those who cannot afford it, yet it is often just as important as regular medical care. When people ignore their dental health or cannot afford it, they can run into many more major health issues. Tzu Chi’s caring and compassionate dentists provide their services because they believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and not forego important services.
Dentist Peter Chen also is a longtime Tzu Chi volunteer, providing his services for upwards of 30 years. He was moved by Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s World of Tzu Chi, a booklet.
The clinic also has dental assistant training classes with about 30 students every semester. Student and Tzu Chi volunteer Daniel Taw completed the dental hygienist training course after eight weeks and 100 volunteer hours. He continued his volunteer work at the clinic after receiving his certification.
He learned from a variety of Tzu Chi dentists and was taught everything from anatomy to the instruments used.
The hope of the volunteer dentists at the clinic is that after they retire, the next generation will be compelled to keep the spirit of compassionate care alive.
That spirit is alive in Daniel Taw.
“If I have the opportunity later once I actually become a dental health professional, I would strongly consider coming back and working with Tzu Chi again. I hope one day that I can give back to Tzu Chi what they have given me right now.”