Friday, Feb 22nd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Tuesday, 11 December 2018 00:00

Free Clinic Expands Its Services for the Convenience of Refugees

Written by  Koh Poo Leng,Klang / Translated by Lim Wen Xin

On December 11, 2018, Tzu-Chi Free Clinic Klang ran a free clinic session at a Rohingya refugee school in Klang. Many TIMA volunteers participated and used their expertise to help alleviate the physical suffering of the refugees. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Tzu-Chi Free Clinic located in Taman Sentosa, Klang, will be expanding its services for refugees next year by extending its operation frequency from three to six days a week, enabling refugees to gain access to medical consultations when necessary. Volunteers have organized a free clinic session for the Rohingya community to raise awareness on the medical services provided by the Free Clinic, as well as share insights on health education.


On December 11, 2018, which coincided with the public holiday in conjunction with the birthday of the Sultan of Selangor, Tzu Chi volunteers in Klang held a free clinic session at the Rohingya refugee school on Jalan Meru, targeting the Rohingya residents in the area with the main purpose of introducing the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Klang to them, encouraging them to visit the Free Clinic when necessary. The free clinic session benefitted 317 refugees that day. In addition, volunteers will be visiting other refugee communities in the Klang region to offer their services to assure more refugees that it is no longer difficult to consult a doctor.

At the break of dawn, volunteers gathered at the venue and began to work orderly. The male volunteers set up the tents, while the females assisted TIMA volunteers in preparing the equipment. Apart from the volunteers, students and teachers from the Rohingya refugee school also participated, creating a touching picture of wholehearted involvement.

Reaching out to those with limited access

When the clock struck 8, the refugees were already there, arriving earlier than the scheduled time. Some walked, while others rode their motorcycles to the venue. They proceeded to complete the registration procedure with the assistance of the volunteer interpreters who are refugees themselves. While waiting for their turn with the doctor, the refugees were not alone as volunteers from the education team had not only prepared group activities, but also took the opportunity to promote health education, bringing warmth to the scene.

Holding a placard depicting the location of Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Klang, Lai Thai Moey seized the chance to give the refugees a detailed introduction to the Free Clinic when the registration area was fully occupied. She hoped that after this free clinic session, the refugees would no longer have to worry about medical expenses because commencing 2019, the Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Klang will be providing medical services to refugees six days a week.

Seated on a chair wearing a stethoscope, UNHCR Tzu-Chi Project Coordinator, Dr Foo Seay Liang, expressed concern towards the patients and promptly gave out reminders, serving the refugees earnestly.

He explained the purpose of this free clinic session: “Although Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Klang is slated to open six days a week, we noticed that the number of refugees coming in for consultation is small. One of the reasons was that they did not know where we are located. Therefore, we hope to reach out to different settlements to tell them about Tzu-Chi Free Clinic and the consultation services we offer.”

Dr Foo admitted that in an interaction with UNHCR officials, he was told that there are many refugee communities residing in Klang, especially the Rohingyas. However, due to the considerable distance and work commitments, the refugees have limited access to Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in KL for treatment. He explained, “Since the refugees are unable to come to us, we will reach out to them to let them know that a group of volunteers will always be around for them, and that they can come to us anytime if they need help.”

In order to raise awareness among refugees in the area on the free medical services offered by the Free Clinic, the volunteers visited each home tirelessly from door to door. Whenever the volunteers encountered refugees who need medical attention but have limited mobility, they would offer help by transporting them on a wheelchair to the free clinic for immediate consultation.

Muftofiz Rahman bin Nozif Hussin, a man in his 80s, was clutching his belly with a troubled expression on his face, and found it difficult to even stand upright. Volunteers ushered him in for a consultation right away. As it turned out, he had not had any bowel movements for the past ten days and his stomach was always in pain – even medications could not relieve his symptoms. The doctor immediately issued a referral letter following the diagnosis, and requested the volunteers to arrange for him to be treated at a hospital to alleviate his suffering. Watching Grandpa Muftofiz getting ready to be transferred to the hospital, the volunteers gave him their deepest blessings and wished him a speedy recovery.

Volunteers to the fore

The venue of the free clinic session was a Madrasah (a residential house-styled religious school) situated in a corner site. Volunteers set up two small tents outside the house as registration booths, while the living room was used for measuring the refugees’ blood pressure and blood sugar levels, weight and height. The waiting area was located to the right of the living room, with five TIMA volunteers on duty to attend to the refugees’ medical concerns patiently.

Abdullah, a teacher at the refugee school who was clad in a volunteer’s vest, acted as a translator at the free clinic session, bridging the communication gap between the doctors and the refugees. He shared solemnly, “We have no IDs, only a refugee card issued by the UNHCR. The consultation fee per session can easily cost more than RM100, but for many of us, we are only paid a daily wage of RM40, which means it takes two to three days of work in exchange for a session. How can a sick child wait this long? If free medical consultation is available, we are able to receive prompt treatment when we fall sick.”
    
According to the statistics, there are more than 70,000 Rohingya refugees with refugee cards in Malaysia. In the absence of legal work opportunities, seeking affordable medical services has become an acute problem for both adults and children. By advocating for people-oriented services, volunteers, therefore, provide humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Nurjahan Begun bte Mohd Hussein, who was seeking medical assistance for her child and grandchild, recalled her experience in dealing with illness, with the help of Niyamatullah bin Sanaullah as her translator. Nurjahan managed to borrow RM2,000 for her gallstone removal surgery at a government hospital, but had to work hard to make ends meet. Hence, she could not afford to recuperate post-surgery. She still feels an ebbing pain from her surgical wound.

“I become fearful whenever my children or grandchildren fall ill, as a visit to the clinic is very expensive. Each visit costs at least RM60 and their father’s daily pay is less than RM60…” Nurjahan lamented helplessly. Upon learning of the free clinic session, she came forward to seek treatment for her child and grandchild right away, significantly reducing the family’s burden.

Although many of the refugees came with their family members, there were many others who came alone. Mohd Idiris, who works at Pasar Besar Klang (Klang Market), earns a daily salary of RM55 at the most. If he ever falls ill, earning enough to feed himself becomes a problem, let alone seeking medical attention at a clinic.

Mohd Idiris said, “I always feel dizzy. One side of my head feels heavier than the other. It isn’t serious enough to affect walking, but it is difficult for us to consult a doctor with such a meagre salary. All we can do is sit and rest when we fall ill. We will only go to the doctor if we manage to borrow some money from friends.”

As long as peace is not achieved, the refugees’ misfortune will never end. Despite only being able to accommodate more than 300 refugees within a 1-day free clinic session, the volunteers will continue to safeguard the refugees’ health as the Free Clinic expands its services in the future.

 

 

In order to benefit more refugees, volunteers walked to the nearby residential area and coffee shops where the refugees gathered to promote the free clinic session. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]   TIMA volunteer Chin Kim Lin utilized his expertise as a pharmacist to explain the usage of medication and raise awareness on the importance of health education to the refugees who came for treatment. [Photograph by Lim Poh Choo]

In order to benefit more refugees, volunteers walked to the nearby residential area and coffee shops where the refugees gathered to promote the free clinic session. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
TIMA volunteer Chin Kim Lin utilized his expertise as a pharmacist to explain the usage of medication and raise awareness on the importance of health education to the refugees who came for treatment. [Photograph by Lim Poh Choo]
 
Abdullah, a teacher at the Rohingya refugee school, put on the volunteer’s vest and served as a translator, bridging the communication gap between the doctors and the refugees. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Nurjahan brought her grandson to the free clinic session for treatment to reduce their family’s burden. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Abdullah, a teacher at the Rohingya refugee school, put on the volunteer’s vest and served as a translator, bridging the communication gap between the doctors and the refugees. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
Nurjahan brought her grandson to the free clinic session for treatment to reduce their family’s burden. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]