2011 TIMA Annual Conference


Written by En-Hsin Liang, Shun-Pin Yang, Ching-Fang Tseng and Fu-Yuan Cheng



The 13th Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Annual Conference started on a sunny day at Hualien Jing Si Hall. About 370 TIMA members from 17 different countries/regions attended this conference. Chin-Lon Lin, CEO of Tzu Chi Medical Mission, led representatives from different countries and held up this year’s theme banner – “Love and Gratitude, Inheritance and Awakening”. The cheers echoed the unity of love from three continents, transcending distance in between.



Due to the aberrant climate in recent years, global calamities have increased in all parts of the world causing devastations. TIMA members have overcome challenges in providing medical services, visiting remote places that are difficult to reach geographically. In Master Cheng Yen’s heart, this group of people, who share the same mission, is the best model as the giver of wealth, Buddhist principles and courage. Every year at the time of Mid-Autumn Festival, TIMA members around the world are united in Hualien for TIMA conference.



International Medical Network Safe-guarding Life Far and Wide

The year of 2011 marks the 45th anniversary of the inception of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and the 25th anniversary of Tzu Chi Medical Mission. This year’s seminar scheduled the richest curriculum which included stem cell and regenerative medicine, Taiwan Association for Sustainable Holistic Health Care, international health care seminars based on humanistic nursing education, and the simulation surgery at Tzu Chi University. Leading medical researchers were invited to deliver speeches about their latest medical discovery and Tzu Chi’s medical humanity, such as the world-renowned AIDS treatment expert Dr. David D. Ho and spinal injury treatment expert Professor Wise Yang.



Chin-Lon Lin addressed that to help and care the poor and sick is the common dream of all TIMA members. Tzu Chi’s six general hospitals in Taiwan form a medical service network. Moreover, TIMA members and more than 100,000 volunteers spread their love all over the world, which benefit more than two million people. This is because our principle of “safeguarding health, safeguarding life, and safeguarding love” is the responsibility and mission of all the TIMA doctors. In addition, Tzu Chi’s humanistic values of “gratitude, respect, and love” is, especially, a wholesome dose for guarding modern people’s bodies and minds.

For over a quarter century, TIMA expanded from its origin of a charity mission to now a global association that has reached all over the world. Lately, the most authoritative research center, the Centre for Scientific Information and Documentation (CINDOC) of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), released the global hospital website rankings. The ranking shows, Tzu Chi General Hospital ranked fourth in the world, and first in Asia. This shows that love and human-oriented medical services is the trend.



Superior Medical Skill, Profound Love

“Poverty and illness are always in a cause and effect correlation.” said Dr. Chin-Lon Lin. In 1972, Master Cheng Yen set up a free clinic in Hualien and found Tzu Chi Hualien Hospital in 1986. Up to today, there are six general hospitals located in northern, central, eastern and southern Taiwan, and they have formed a strong medical network. TIMA has served almost two million people in more than 14 countries around the globe in the past 13 years. Wherever help is needed, there are TIMA members present.



Chin-Lon Lin humored a sarcastic saying from years ago – “Is Taipei to America farther or Taipei to Hualien farther?” From this saying, one can understand how difficult it was when the hospital first founded in Hualien. However, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital has now developed to be a medical center, and the five hospitals in Yuli, Kuanshan, Dalin, Taichung and Taipei are located throughout Taiwan to safeguard local residents’ lives. Chin-Lon Lin showed a video interview of Dr. Ching-Feng Hsiao at Tzu Chi Kuanshan Hospital in class. Dr. Hsiao described the importance of caring with love during medical treatment.

atment. After 25 years medical mission, Chin-Lon Lin still wants to emphasize the concept of “love”. We need to give what patients need. He wished all the TIMA members would not only cure sickness but also heal minds. “As long as we can find the way, distance is a paltry concern.” 

“Medical skills might not necessary have to be superior, but love must be profound.” Besides, healing people with love, there is another important feature for this year - “Awakening.” Lin said that before America was thought as a prosperous land. However, throughout the years, many disasters have struck the land. Earthquakes, storms, fires and tsunamis are caused by imbalance of the elements. They are the results of people’s greed; especially the greed of food consumption is the most serious problem. Lin used a barbeque meat as an example, saying that the smoke from process pollutes the air, the carbon emissions associated with livestock industry accounted for more than half of the global emissions, which is the main cause of higher greenhouse gas. He wished people could eat less meat and more vegetables to save the earth.


Silent Teachers’ Selfless Contributions Benefit Doctors and Patients

“We are grateful to the people who donated their bodies. The cadavers act as teachers helping physicians to practice on difficult operation procedures,” said Chain-Fa Su, Director of Neurological Science Center at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. At the Medical Simulation Center, he appreciated the donors’ selfless contributions and wished that through simulation classes more lives could be saved. For the simulation surgery, eight cadavers were used by four departments: Department of Neurosurgery, Department of Urology, Department of Gastroenterology and Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Fifteen surgeries were performed. Some senior doctors also enrolled for this class, serving as instructors and students. Some of them are returning doctors for the second time. This is because Tzu Chi simulation surgical classes provide outstanding software and hardware facilities. In total, the class was attended by 132 doctors from 49 hospitals. 



Skull base tumor surgery led by Director Chain-Fa Su at Tzu Chi Hualien Hospital is a procedure in which neurosurgeon makes a temporary opening above the ear to remove the tumor from front part of the brainstem. A single-hole endoscopic, pituitary surgery is operated through the natural pathway of the nose. After opening the nasal sinuses, an endoscopic removal of the tumor from pituitary is performed. These are two complicated and sophisticated operations. The procedure is highly risky. It is extremely hard to get a chance to do actual practice. Therefore, the doctors are grateful for the donors’ selfless contributions. Through simulation classes, the skills can be passed on to the next generation.

A new neurological ‘GPA’ guided technology was also demonstrated in the class. Through sensors and different scanners, doctors can clearly view 3D images with precision while performing surgery. Not only can they steer away from blood vessels but also avoid the nerves, therefore minimize post-surgery complications.


Passing down the Resources, Carrying on the Spirit

On the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, clouds lightly covered the sky but when all TIMA members arrived, the moon was brightly hanging over the square of Jing Si Hall. First, 11 members from Tzu Chi University Happy & Healthy Club cheered everyone up with the song “Sweet Family”. The song was full of Taiwan aboriginal peoples’ spirit and rhythm – “Ho he yo! Ho he yo!...” The lyrics signifies the spirit of TIMA. No matter where you are, which race and nationality you belong to, we all “appreciate the karma that brings us together as a family.”

Next , children from Tzu Chi Elementary astounded everyone with amazing unicycle performance. The performance consisted of several formation changes and dexterous moves. Looking at their skillful performance, the crowd cheered and camera shots flickered incessantly. Everyone wanted to capture the innocence and dedication of these kids. 

While Tzu Chi Elementary students performed the sign language songs “Happy Face” and “Kids of the Earth”, Tzu-En and Tzu-Ai twin sisters from Philippines walked up to the stage from audience seats. They joined the sign language performance as well as using their clear Chinese pronunciation singing all the lyrics.

The students from Tzu Chi College of Technology, awarded as a distinguished school, performed the English song “A world filled with warmth”. 


When you reach out your hands
to help those who are in need,
your life will surely change
because you have opened your

Our hearts feel grateful,
the world is filled with warmth.
The world changes just as we do,
forming a circle of love.
When you reach out your hands
‘cause you need a helping hand.
Perhaps you’ll meet again,
a hand you once held before.


The last but not least is the performance of “Greeting Dance.” It was led by the well-known experts of the dance – the Nursing Department of Tzu Chi Hualien Hospital. With bright smiles, they invited all the guests and members to join the dance. The MidAutumn Festival party ended happily and warmly in a fervent musical rhythm. All the members felt energetic and lingered on with good company. 

On the last day, several members shared all the touching moments happened in the past few days. Every year TIMA members fly back from different corners of the world like migrant birds flying thousands of miles back to their sanctuary. It allows every traveler to recharge their energy and receive encouragement from each other. With grateful and awakened mind, they carry their love to the world where medication and love are needed. And the spirit of TIMA will continue and reach out to every part of the world.