At the heart of Tzu Chi is volunteerism, which goes hand in hand with Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s original vision, is to be of service to others, especially those less fortunate. By bringing together other nuns and the housewives who she taught, they were able to raise money over time, which brought hope to those in dire situations.
They crafted special piggy banks made from bamboo so that they could collect coins. The housewives themselves gave a few cents a day from their own grocery money. They were guided by the words of Master Cheng Yen, who said:
The humble bamboo bank is a symbol of the humanitarian works of Tzu Chi, established on May 14, 1966 by Master Cheng Yen, and it shows how “no good deed is too small when done with love and pure intentions.” These bamboo banks are used today as well and show that if everyone does one small good deed, it can spread the world over.
That is at the core of Tzu Chi and its volunteerism and also holds true for medical volunteers who give of their services to patients who otherwise would not receive care from vision to dental to medical.
Many patients cannot afford medical services and lack medical insurance. Tzu Chi medical volunteers provide services free of charge but they instead are rewarded by their good deeds. Many have continued to do so for many years. Medical staff not only treat patients but provide them with information on how to proceed further in their own healing and to be vigilant about their own health on their own. When patients do that, it helps increase the overall health of the entire community.
The team of Tzu Chi’s volunteer doctors and dentists also extend emotional support to patients. Prevention is better than treatment in many ways and the medical volunteers are happy to provide whatever services they can.
Preventive education is offered for many cancers, dental, pharmaceutical and nutrition. To be of service is to help others and is considered their greatest work. Medical volunteers consider themselves joyful when patients get well and their lives take a turn for the better.