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Sunday, 02 December 2018 00:00

Maintain Labourers’ Health with Vegetarian Diet and Health Screening

Written by  Chua Chong Sing, KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Nutritionist Erica Tee introduced the various distinctive features of vegetarian lunches to the workers. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]

“I am a doctor. Are you experiencing any discomfort?” On December 2, 2018, community volunteers and TIMA members held a vegetarian food and health screening event at the Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur (TCISKL) construction site, benefitting 128 construction workers.


Under the blazing sun, the construction site workers toiled and sweat to construct the Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur (TCISKL). Upholding the spirit of Great Love, Tzu Chi volunteers organize free health screenings and promote vegetarianism on a regular basis for the workers.

Event coordinator, volunteer Kuan Chew Keong said that the vegetarian food event will be held every first and third Saturday of the month, while the health screening will take place every first Saturday.

Health screening coordinator, volunteer Yip Sook Ying shared that 20 TIMA medical personnel, omprising doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nutritionists and naturopathy practitioners, had volunteered for the event. “We will provide long-term healthcare services to ensure the workers’ health is well taken care of.” The theme of the health screening event varies each month. This time round, the theme revolves around maintaining strong bones and the sharing of healthy vegetarian diet. For the following months, among the designated themes are oral health and environmental safety. The healthcare services provided during the health screening event included calculating Body Mass Index (BMI), measuring blood glucose and blood pressure levels, professional medical consultation, dispensing medication, and physiotherapy.

Stretching exercises and a vegetarian diet for holistic wellbeing

Physiotherapist Teo Hui Xin guided the workers through some simple muscle stretching exercises to alleviate muscle injuries, while another physiotherapist, Look Wut Ling, demonstrated the correct way to lift heavy loads in order to prevent spinal injury.

Wut Ling said that when transporting heavy objects, one must first squat down close to the heavy object, before lifting it up with both hands while making sure one’s back is straightened. As the workers often bend their back to carry heavy objects and are unaware of the ergonomics of exerting strength, many of them are susceptible to injuring their waist and arm muscles.

Nutritionist Erica Tee introduced to the workers the distinctive qualities of vegetarian lunches. The vegetarian version of nasi lemak served set itself apart from its conventional counterpart with meat being substituted by protein-rich tempeh (fermented soybean cake) and complemented with side dishes of long beans, mushrooms, potatoes, sambal and peanuts. The workers enjoyed the meal very much.

Every Monday to Friday starting December 17, vegetarian lunch prepared by Tzu Chi volunteers is available to the workers at a nominal fee of RM2. The move aims to promote vegetarianism. Workers are also encouraged to eliminate the hard habits of smoking, drinking and gambling.

Keeping one’s health in check

Project Manager of TCISKL, Choi Lim Fatt, said that the initial completion date of the project was set for December 2019, but in order to accommodate its official opening in January 2020, the completion date has been moved forward to September 2019. To expedite the construction, the workers take turns to work shifts and overtime on Sundays and public holidays.

Having observed the workers toiling hard, Lim Fatt found the event on healthcare has met the workers’ needs. These foreign workers would rather send their wages to their family back home than spend it to consult a doctor when they fall ill, especially when they could barely even afford the doctor’s consultation fee.
    
Construction Manager Pu Jong Hing commended the concept of abstaining from smoking, drinking and gambling that was highlighted in the event. He is a diabetic who places importance on dietary intake and health, hence he very much agrees with the provision of vegetarian meals as they are affordable and convenient, saving the workers’ time and money spent on preparing meals themselves or buying meals from elsewhere.

Erick Samy, who has been working in the construction field for 15 years, said that it was the first time in his life seeing doctors present at the construction site to conduct health screenings for the workers for free. “Recently, my skin has been itching frequently. The doctor prescribed some oral medication and topical ointment. He advised me to seek help from a specialist if the symptoms persist. Before this, I spent about RM200 – which, to me, is a huge expense – on medical consultation at a nearby clinic, because I could not bear the itchiness. This free health screening helped me a lot.”

Another construction worker, Rashibuil Hassan from Bangladesh, has been suffering from constant knee and waist pain as a result of carrying heavy loads for long periods of time. The doctor also prescribed him some oral medication and topical ointment. On top of that, the physiotherapist taught him the correct posture and way to carry heavy objects.

“We are one family; we help, believe in and are grateful to each other. We are one family; we share the burdens and joys in life…”

The Indonesian version of “We are One Family” was played during lunch, reflecting Tzu Chi’s spirit of Great Love that transcends race, religion and nationality. It is hoped that these workers commit to building the TCISKL with all their heart and are able to complete the project by September 2019.

 

 

The physiotherapist guided the workers in muscle stretching exercises to alleviate muscle injuries. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]   A TIMA doctor examined the workers carefully, hoping to detect any suspicious symptoms. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]

The physiotherapist guided the workers in muscle stretching exercises to alleviate muscle injuries. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]
 
A TIMA doctor examined the workers carefully, hoping to detect any suspicious symptoms. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]
 
The workers formed an orderly queue to receive vegetarian nasi lemak from the volunteers. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]   TCISKL Project Manager Choi Lim Fatt said that this free vegetarian food and health screening event met the workers’ medical needs. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]

The workers formed an orderly queue to receive vegetarian nasi lemak from the volunteers. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]
 
 
TCISKL Project Manager Choi Lim Fatt said that this free vegetarian food and health screening event met the workers’ medical needs. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]
 
It was Erick Samy’s first time seeing doctors present at the construction site to provide free consultation to the workers. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]

It was Erick Samy’s first time seeing doctors present at the construction site to provide free consultation to the workers. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]