On the morning of July 7, 2013, Yuhua Community Club was transformed into a venue for health screening with everything in order. Priyatharshini, 13, accompanied her mother, Jayarani, a nurse from the National Heart Centre, to volunteer at the event. The young girl was all ears as a Tzu Chi volunteer gave a briefing before the start of the event. It was her second time volunteering with Tzu Chi and that day happened to be her birthday.
Jayarani thinks that extravagant birthday celebrations are unnecessary, and children should be taught to do good since young. "We should guide children to do voluntary work from young, which helps broaden their horizons. By setting good examples, we can teach them the right values." Therefore, Priyatharshini has been volunteering alongside her mother since three years ago. Jayarani said proudly, "We have a harmonious relationship. She is a fast learner. If I miss some procedures, she will remind me."
This is the sixth year Tzu Chi Singapore worked with Yuhua Community Club to organize health screening events. Apart from providing medical services, TIMA was also responsible for all the tasks involved from planning and scheduling to providing meals. The medical volunteers assumed leading roles and it was the first experience for many of them.
"Many of our TIMA members are willing to contribute their effort, but there is still a lot of room for improvement for those who are willing to take on the responsibility. Commitment is an opportunity for self-growth, somebody must come forward first, then others will follow suit. So I want to set a good example for others," said Liu Ling Ling, who served as the main coordinator for the event for the first time.
Ling Ling found that the biggest challenge was the scheduling of medical volunteers. As medical staff usually work rotating shifts, if there is a need to reschedule their off days, they must apply for it three months in advance. A total of seventy TIMA members were required to perform non-medical related duties at the health screening event, and Ling Ling personally called them up to explain to them their respective duties. She said, "I hope that in future, more TIMA members will come forth and give of themselves so that they can gain wisdom and also have a better understanding of Tzu Chi."
Career and Volunteer Work Go Hand in Hand
Dr Lim Chiao Yuen was invited by Ling Ling to be the coordinator for publicity for the health screening event. Initially, he thought that he only had to contact the volunteers and arrange for them to promote the event to the residents so his job should be fairly easy. However, he soon found out that things were not as simple as he thought. “Whenever I sent a message to the volunteers to remind them to come and help, some would reply that they could not make it. I then have to reschedule the volunteers. It was no easy task!” Dr Lim shared.
As Dr Lim seldom took public transport and was unfamiliar with the surroundings of the venue, whenever volunteers asked him how to get there by public transport, he would search the Internet to find out the information for them. On the day they promoted the event to the residents, after arranging and grouping the volunteers, Dr Lim had to return to work in the hospital.
"The various unforeseen circumstances that occurred had helped me learn to be more patient and tolerant towards others. I might need to spend some time solving problems, but in the end I am the one who benefited," said Dr Lim, who gladly and readily took on all the challenges.
More and Better Services
Nestled amidst HDB blocks, Yuhua Community Club has served the residents over many years by holding various activities; it is a place where people have gatherings together like a big family. Due to the aging population, many age-related diseases have surfaced. In view of this, Yuhua CC and Tzu Chi Singapore jointly hold an annual health screening event for the residents so as to improve their health awareness.
The scope of the services provided at the health screening event has expanded and it now covers Chinese and Western Medicine, dentistry and eye screening.
As suggested by the Health Promotion Board, this time they made use of the Reflotron to check cholesterol and blood sugar levels. "This instrument can do blood analysis, so the results would be more accurate," said Zhang Ai Ping, a full-time medical volunteer. If the instrument was found useful and it could deliver test results within a controlled amount of time, it could be used in other big scale health screening events
The Reflotron can do blood analysis for eight samples at a time. With this device, it takes only about 150 seconds to measure cholesterol levels and no more than 115 seconds to determine blood sugar levels. The almost immediate blood test results enable the doctors to quickly assess the residents’ health status without waiting for lab reports.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister at Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, and MP for Yuhua, was present at Yuhua Community Club, interacting warmly with the residents.
"Tzu Chi has been serving the residents in Yuhua community for many years. Besides having worked with us for a long time, it also understands our situation well. The Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic has been opened for three years and it knows the residents well. So the health screening services can better cater for the needs of our residents,” said Ms Fu. “Every year, we cooperate well together and the event has also offered more services to meet the residents’ needs, I am very grateful that for so many years, Tzu Chi has been helping to safeguard the health of the residents," she added.
In the light of an aging population and the onset of age-related diseases, Ms Fu said, "We need to care for both the elderly’s body and mind, I hope there will be more opportunities for Tzu Chi to collaborate with us to help the elderly so they can enjoy peace and joy in their golden years."
The elderly residents truly appreciated the warmth and care from the volunteers at the annual health screening event, which was a success. It benefited 600 residents; 146 medical personnel, 45 optometrists and their trainees, 26 volunteers from the Residents’ Committee and 52 Tzu Chi volunteers were mobilized.