By HARRY CLARKE
THE community hall at Tara is this weekend a flurry of activity as a team of nearly 100 volunteer dentists and medical staff carry out free dental service to residents as part of an annual philanthropic project centred around Bhuddist values.
The Tzu Chi Foundation is a global community of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise to help people in need.
The organisation was established 50 years ago and has a strong presence Brisbane, where it operates a permanent medical centre.
Every Easter for 15 years the group, made up mostly of Taiwanese Buddhists but also including many other cultures and religions, has been providing free dental care to residents of Tara.
Tzu Chi Brisbane spokesperson Patrick Lu said the annual visit to the Western Downs began with a chance meeting with a former Tara dental hygienist at a Gold Coast medical conference.
“The dental hygienist told us that this area was very short of dental resources and a lower socioeconomic area that could use some help,” Mr Lu said.
“We want to help out people who are in need. It’s our responsibility. It will be a busy three days but everyone is very happy to be here.”
For three days the Tze Chi Brisbane‘s volunteer team will work from 7am until 11pm, carry out a total of more than 600 free dental appointments during that time.
With its makeshift, temporary dental clinic, the team can carry out a broad range of services from general check ups to fillings and dentures.
Globally, the Tzu Chi Foundation is funded by community donations, but Brisbane directer Frank Lu (picture above with coordinator Alice Lu) said many of the local volunteers use their own money for transport and accommodation for the annual Tara visit.
“Buddha teaches us about compassion and making your life more meaningful,” Mr Lu said.
“Instead of having a holiday we want to come out and have fun and help. We learn from our master if you are capable of helping, then you should go out and help. Everyone enjoys this very much.”