Opening Ceremony of the 2018 TIMA USA Convention
The theme of the 2018 TIMA USA Convention is Humanistic Healthcare, encompassing Tzu Chi’s approach to medical care which begins with compassion and the view that each patient is like a personal family member. Essentially, humanistic healthcare comes from the heart and isn’t based on disease, but rather on treating the whole body and mind together.
The Opening Ceremony offered a broad perspective on Tzu Chi’s global missions and TIMA’s role. Dr. William Keh, M.D. and CEO of Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, explained how TIMA is a network of doctors and medical professionals who volunteer to conduct community outreach and participate in international medical outreach alongside Tzu Chi’s disaster relief missions.
The next speaker, Dr. Lin Chin-Lon, CEO of global Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, joining the proceedings from Taiwan thanks to a video link, began by pointing out how Tzu Chi’s missions align with the long-term goals of the United Nations, aiming to address extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change. He then presented a brief history of TIMA, which was formed in 1998, and shared his experience as part of its international missions in the Philippines, Indonesia, Bosnia, Turkey, and Jordan.
Dr. Chin-Lon also spoke of how the TIMA community gathers together each year during the Annual TIMA International Conferences in Taiwan that started in 2000. TIMA Forums, interfaith gatherings that take place in different countries, are now also a yearly event that connects an international community of medical professionals dedicated to humanitarian service. The 2019 TIMA Global Forum, which will take place in Los Angeles in March, was announced and will be the next chapter in this new tradition.
The final address in the Opening Ceremony was a moving presentation about Tzu Chi’s Silent Mentors program that’s part of Tzu Chi’s education mission. Dr. Kenneth Liao, DDS, outlined what’s involved in this remarkable full-body donation program, based in Taiwan, which has a waiting list of over 30,000 individuals who want to sign up - many of whom are Tzu Chi volunteers.
By offering their body for the purpose of surgical and anatomical education, donors turn what would be of no use whatsoever, into a priceless gift that will benefit humanity. The video that was presented brought tears to many in the audience, and heightened the meaning behind Tzu Chi’s core principles of humanitarian service offered with gratitude, respect, and love.