While the sun smoldered the streets of Manila, volunteers and dentists of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines held the 110th Mobile Dental Service last May 18 inside Maxim Building located in Masangkay St., Binondo which served some 82 patients residing around the foundation’s recycling point that has been set up in the same street.
At least seven dentists, assisted by nine dental aides who are students of the Dental Auxiliary Course of the organization’s Livelihood Training Program, tirelessly provided complete and free dental services where 29 underwent tooth extraction procedure; 20 had dental restoration; 27 patients smiled with full confidence after undergoing oral prophylaxis; and, six patients had check-up for dentures.
The mission started at around 10 a.m. and concluded at around 3 p.m.
With the diligence of 41 volunteers in total, the patients experienced the ‘Tzu Chi care’ and felt satisfied at the end of the dental procedures they have undergone.
Forty-one-year-old Erlina Cedeño, who brought six of her children to the mission, was among the many people who benefitted from the services of the foundation for the first time. She said that after learning about the dental mission from a local Filipino-Chinese volunteer, she and her children hurriedly went to the venue which is just a few meters away from their house.
“We are very happy to benefit from this mission. In private clinics, the cost of extraction is Php 200 per tooth while around Php 400 will be charged for cleaning. We could never afford to have all of such procedures at once for, instead of having our teeth cleaned, we would rather buy food. Through Tzu Chi Foundation, we can now smile widely with our teeth showing,” Cedeño related in Filipino during an interview.
Cedeño and her six children all received oral prophylaxis procedure.
Another patient who experienced the services of Tzu Chi for the first time was Ronnie Baquiram, 40, who had his nearly decaying tooth restored. During the interview, he shyly smiled and said that the dentist who carefully performed the procedure made him feel at ease.
“I am so happy because I feel that my tooth has been renewed. Thank you very much to the dentists and to Tzu Chi Foundation in general for allowing me to be part of this dental mission,” Baquiram said in Filipino.
At the same time during the event, the volunteers joyfully interacted with the patients, sharing with them some of the most remarkable Tzu Chi stories such as how it started through the efforts of its founder, the venerable Master Cheng Yen.
They also made time to acquaint the residents about the recycling efforts of Tzu Chi Foundation which aims to save the environment from dreadful conditions and total destruction.
“Some three weeks ago, we started with having this part of the building as Tzu Chi’s recycling point in Binondo as permitted by my aunt who actually owns the place,” Xu Bi Yuan, a Chinese volunteer, said during an interview.
Maxim Building, where the dental mission was held, was also being used as a recycling point of the organization in the area.
“During the first two weeks, the residents responded well to our call to save Mother Nature by bringing in here sacks of recyclables which are later being picked up and transported to the Tzu Chi Educational Recycling Center at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila,” she added.
On the other hand, while the dental mission went on, four Tzu Chi volunteers and staff went to the house of 56-year-old Marcelo Pabio located in Alvarado St., Binondo, Manila. The latter has continually been an active donor of recyclables.
Pabio started to support Tzu Chi’s environmental protection mission when the foundation gave assistance for the medication of her now 24-year-old daughter who suffered from tuberculosis in the stomach in 2003.
“This is my way of at least giving back the help we received from Tzu Chi Foundation because, if not for them, Mary Ann (his daughter) could have died years ago,” he shared in Filipino.
Pabio, a Catholic, shared that he is grateful to meet the Buddhist organization and its Filipino-Chinese volunteers as they extend help that transcends borders and without pretensions.
“The Tzu Chi Foundation is a blessing from above and made to touch our lives for the better,” he said.
He thanks all of his friends including the Filipino-Chinese occupants in the above-mentioned building for their incessant help ever since. He used to work as a security guard in one of the buildings in the area so he was able to create affinity with them and earn support in collecting recyclables being donated to Tzu Chi Foundation at present.
As a Tzu Chi tarpaulin carrying the message of saving Mother Nature has been put in front of his humble home, Pabio conveyed his hope that more people will contribute to the missions of the foundation as these will help the lives of more people.
Meanwhile, the volunteers also hope that through the 110th mobile dental service, there will be more participation from the residents around the recycling point in Binondo as well as in other parts of Metro Manila.