Between August 21st and 25th, representatives
of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation went to the Micronesia state of Chuuk
and donated 900 kilograms of medical equipments and supplies to the state
hospital there and held several free clinics on neighboring islands.
In July 2002, Typhoon Chata'an hit Micronesia, which took 47 lives and left thousands homeless. Upon hearing this news, Tzu Chi Foundation promptly put together 850 Tzu Chi Family Medicinal Boxes. Tzu Chi Hawaii Branch donated antibiotics and sutures. Several pharmaceutical companies in Taiwan also donated drugs and medications. All together, Tzu Chi Foundation filled up 54 containers weighing close to 900 kilograms. Dr. Fan, the director of Tzu Chi's Hawaii Branch, and Mr. Wu, a Tzu Chi volunteer, went to Micronesia as representatives of Tzu Chi Foundation. Dr. Fan and Mr. Wu gave these medical supplies to Chuuk State Hospital. The Minister of Health, who is also the president of that hospital, received the supplies. Tzu Chi's principles for all relief missions-Directness (personal delivery of aid), Priority (focus on most needy areas), Respect, Timeliness, and Practicality (the giving of useful aid that meets needs)-were strictly followed. Afterwards, under the assistance of the Minister of Health and local medical staff, trips were made to two other islands, Tanoas and Fefan, to conduct free clinics for local residents.
Chuuk State Hospital is the only hospital in the state. There are 120 beds that service the 60,000 residents in the islands. Upon investigation, Tzu Chi volunteers found this hospital to be in dire need of better equipments and more medication. Tzu Chi made the decision to give all the medicine and supplies to this hospital. The Minister of Health expressed his gratitude to Tzu Chi Foundation for bringing them the much-needed medicine, especially the family medicinal boxes, because the residents of the islands sorely needed them.
When Tzu Chi volunteers went to the neighboring islands with the local medical staff, they found that the most common diseases among residents are skin disease, infection of wounds, and the common cold. In addition, many children were found to have poor vision because they are deficient in vitamin A and rarely get to eat green vegetables or carrots. Some have even gone blind as a result. Local medical staff told Tzu Chi volunteers that much is lacking in these islands. When hungry, local residents fish or pick coconuts, and many wear the same clothes all year round. However, when they fall sick, it becomes very dangerous. There is no hospital on these islands. Most of them earn their living through fishing. If they become sick, they can only choose to endure it or travel to Chuuk State Hospital, which is itself lacking in necessary supplies. Traveling, however, only further delays their treatment.
The free clinics were held in empty rooms or under tents. With the help of local nurses in translation, all in all, 180 patients were treated. At the same time, 180 Tzu Chi Family Medicinal Boxes were also distributed. Those who received the boxes were very happy and expressed their gratitude.
In 1998, Tzu Chi Hawaii Branch made the first trip to Micronesia to investigate the drought and famine situation there. It was discovered then that the medical facilities there were in need of assistance. Since then, Insulin, blood sugar level testers for diabetes, drugs for high blood pressure, and other medical supplies have been mailed to Micronesia by Tzu Chi Hawaii Branch.