The center took six months of preparatory work and will concentrate on preventive medicine. It is based in the Tzu Chi Suzhou Grounds.
Volunteers first arrived in the mainland in the summer of 1991, to bring relief to thousands of people affected by devastating floods in east China. In the more than 20 years since then, the foundation has spread its unconditional love to 27 provinces, cities and autonomous regions and earned widespread approval. On August 20, 2010, it became the first NGO from outside the mainland to establish a foundation in China, also in Suzhou. The opening of the health center is, with the setting up of the foundation, a milestone in Tzu Chi’s history in China.
The flooding in 1991 left many people stricken with grief at the loss of family members and of homes and farmland. It also put the foundation into contact with new people, among them Chen Ronghua, former president of the Nanjing Medical University: “we should say that, after the flooding in east China, Tzu Chi did a great deal to help the survivors,” he said. “In doing so, it built bridges between the two sides of the straits, especially with Jiangsu and Hunan. We have built excellent relations with them. My person opinion is that, in developing cross-strait relations, Tzu Chi has been an ice-breaker.”
That year, the volunteers delivered relief goods to the disaster areas and built homes. They were especially active in Quanshu county in Anhui province, one of the worst hit areas, which is close to Nanjing city. They saw that the residents badly needed better medical facilities. So Master Cheng Yen had the idea to build a hospital in Nanjing, in the hope of bringing love to those who were suffering.
Professor Chen recalled: “at that time medical conditions in the mainland were not good. The objective was to be able to bring the best treatment.” With this in mind, Master Chang Yen wanted to help the poor and the sick and promote co-operation between the two sides. The foundation asked Nanjing Medical University to train more than 560 medical students for the project.
But the time was not ripe and the plan for co-operation could not be realized. Professor Chen said: “Tzu Chi has been showing great care and friendship for these students. Volunteers have often come to see them, having meetings and discussions and sharing with them the spirit of Tzu Chi. Although the project of the hospital has not been realized, the foundation has planted more than 500 seeds. This is very good for the mainland.”
The foundation’s medical mission is to protect the health of the public; this mission continues to moves the hearts of people. Finally, the new center received the support and approval of the Jiangsu provincial and Suzhou city governments and opened in the Tzu Chi Suzhou Grounds in the city. It will not only spread beauty and goodness but also will promote the concept of preventive medicine in the mainland. Volunteer Qiu Yu-fen said: “We hope to change the common conception of medicine in the mainland. They fall ill and then go to see a doctor. Actually, when you are not sick, you can go to see one and find how you can stay healthy.”
Professor Chen said: “People in the mainland welcome this idea. If you are healthy, you can live for a long time. Everyone hopes that, by being healthy, they can obtain good fortune and, by having good fortune, they can be healthy.”
Article by Lin Yu-ling in Suzhou 27/3/2013
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