July 25, 2023
Tzu Chi medical mission inspires volunteerism
By Joy Rojas
The spirit of volunteerism was alive at the 246th Tzu Chi Davao Medical Mission held from July 20 to 22 at the Davao Chong Hua High School in Davao City.
Sixty-one doctors from the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), nine nurses, and 103 Tzu Chi volunteers from Cebu, Iloilo, Zamboanga, and Metro Manila joined their 140 Davao counterparts for three days of assisting 2,750 beneficiaries in general checkups for adults, pediatric consultations, dental services, the distribution of reading glasses, and surgical consultations and procedures.
Many Davaoeños also didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to do good for others.
Rosita Te has a long personal history with Davao Chong Hua High School, where she graduated in 1968. The Chinese principal with 52 years of service to the institution has witnessed its many milestones; among them, Tzu Chi’s previous medical missions. “There were more patients back then,” she recalls. “And now surgeries are done at Lanang Premiere Doctors Hospital, but our conference room was once used as a mini operating room for minor surgeries.”
Mobilizing the school’s teachers, alumni, members of the student council, and Boy Scouts to help in Tzu Chi’s latest medical mission wasn’t difficult. “We are happy to be chosen as the venue of your activity,” she says. “It’s a blessing to us. When you help the poor and give them free medicine, it’s like we did it too.”
No doubt this event marks yet another high point in the school that commemorates its centennial in 2024. “It’s a good stepping stone to getting our alumni together before we celebrate our 100th year next school year,” says the principal. “Thank you to everybody to volunteered for this activity. We hope you continue to have more.”
For Ateneo de Davao University’s junior/senior high basketball team, volunteering with Tzu Chi’s medical mission was a chance to put their school’s core belief in action.
“At the Ateneo, we have what is known as ‘magis,’ the Latin word for ‘more,’ or ‘the greater good,’” says assistant coach Martin Gian Maningo. “Our students are taught to be men and women for others. So aside from playing basketball, we give back to the community by helping the less fortunate.”
The medical mission, which they learned from teammate Carl Francis Chua, son of Tzu Chi volunteer Nelson Chua, is the first of many altruistic endeavors for the varsity players. A week after Tzu Chi’s outreach program, the boys were part of a sports clinic in Mintal. In August, the team will participate in a turtle-hatching initiative in Dumalag, Matina.
“These kids live comfortably. They eat three meals a day and have the resources to go to a doctor if they need to. Through activities like this, they are exposed to people who can’t afford basic health services. I want them to feel thankful for what they have and to make them aware that not everyone is as lucky as they are,” says the coach.
“I want them to realize that there’s more to life than basketball and school,” he adds. “Through programs like this, they can also be servants to the community.”
A total of 243 volunteers participated in the 246th Tzu Chi Davao Medical Mission. The event served 703 patients on its first day, 1,231 patients on its second day, and 816 patients on its third day.
While in Davao, Tzu Chi volunteers headed by Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez also visited the University of Southeastern Philippines, where they met Dr. Lourdes C. Generalao, university president, and other school officials to discuss how incoming second-year college students can avail of its Educational Assistance Program.