Who We Are

How We Started

In Chinese, “tzu” means compassion and “chi” means relief—the very things that Dharma Master Cheng Yen sought to offer the impoverished in her native Taiwan. She founded Tzu Chi in 1966 along with five disciples, and after spending six years among the Taiwan’s poor, the young Master saw how prevalently illness caused a family’s fall into poverty. Determined to relieve their suffering, Tzu Chi began providing medical care to the poor.


In Chinese, “tzu” means compassion, and “chi” means relief.

Since then, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has evolved its care into an international medical mission. 
We operate six hospitals in Taiwan, manage the world’s fifth largest bone marrow bank, and administer the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) with more than 8,600 physicians and health professionals who provide free medical services to more than 2 million people around the world.

In 1993, we established the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation in the United States with our first free clinic in California, dedicated to providing patient-centered, high-quality community health services to low-income individuals. We now run three community clinics in Alhambra, South El Monte and Wilmington, California, that provide care at minimal or no cost. We also host an array of free, large-scale medical outreaches across the country, along with mobile dental and vision programs, support groups and preventive health education.

Play Video

About TIMA

The Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) consists of medical professionals around the world who volunteer their expertise and time to provide quality medical services to vulnerable populations affected by disaster and poverty both locally and worldwide.  It is TIMA volunteers’ signature to provide medical services in an effective, respectful and compassionate manner.

TIMA also regularly collaborates with community and global organizations to hold large-scale outreach events wherever there is pressing need.

Milestones of TIMA USA

For over 20 years, TIMA USA has held medical outreaches in nearby countries that include Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Honduras and Haiti.

Our volunteers have also responded to natural and manmade disasters by hosting medical outreaches and blood drives after the 1999 Armenia, Colombia Earthquake; September 11; the 2005 Sri Lankan Tsunami; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the 2010 Haiti Earthquake; and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

It is with this spirit of teamwork and aid that we hope to accomplish so much more.