Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Feb 01st
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Home Global Activities Asia Sri Lanka-free clinic at Base Hospital

Sri Lanka-free clinic at Base Hospital

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Between August 27 and 29, Tzu Chi held a free clinic at Base Hospital, Kahawatta, Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. A group of 101 medical care professionals from Singapore and Malaysia treated over 2,800 patients in three days, providing services in surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry, and internal medicine. The services, part of an on-going involvement that Tzu Chi has with the nation, were provided by members of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA).

Sri Lanka was hit hard by the monstrous tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Tzu Chi volunteers rushed to the Hambantota area and offered free clinics, distributed essential supplies, and helped the nation rebuild. A Tzu Chi Great Love Village of permanent housing for 649 families was erected in April 2006, and Tzu Chi National School (for secondary education) was inaugurated in January 2008.

While these events were unfolding, Tzu Chi established a branch office in Hambantota and began to recruit like-minded local volunteers who could deliver aid to needy people in their own area. They make home visits to the destitute, deliver money and supplies for their subsistence, and arrange medical treatment for people whose circumstances warrant individualized assistance. So far, more than 200 families have benefited.

However, medical resources are generally scarce. People often have to wait months, if not years, for a badly needed operation. Therefore, Tzu Chi volunteers felt the need to offer free medical treatments.

They planned a free clinic for March 2009, but then had to postpone it due to the heightening civil war and the terrorist attacks in the national capital, Colombo. The news of this decision, however, did not reach Selvam and Chandra soon enough. The couple excitedly went to the planned venue for the March free clinic only to be disappointed. This time around, they set out at four in the morning. After a four-hour bus ride, they reached the Base Hospital at Kahawatta.

Chandra was severely burned 18 years ago, soon after she got married and pregnant. Her husband deserted her because of her scars and deformed neck muscles that left her unable to turn her head. Selvam later married her.

On August 28, TIMA surgeon Feng Bao-xing (馮寶興) operated on Chandra. An hour later, Dr. Feng emerged and said that Chandra would soon be able to turn her head freely. Chandra bowed to thank Dr. Feng.

Three local health care leaders were so impressed by what the TIMA volunteers had done for their people that they joined TIMA and became its local advocates. The three of them, Ratnapura department of health director Kapila, Base Hospital superintendent Tissa Perera, and community health director Panditha, also took part in the 2009 TIMA annual conference in Hualien, Taiwan, so they could learn more about the ideals behind Tzu Chi.

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Jing-Si Aphorism