Tzu Chi mobile clinic arrives in Houston will provide dental and medical assistance to Katrina evacuees

Reliefweb, Sept 6, 2005

SAN DIMAS, Calif. (USA) -- After 40 hours of driving, the Tzu Chi Mobile Clinic finally arrived in Houston to help the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. The mobile clinic left from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Free Clinic in the Los Angeles area, early Tuesday morning.

Two Tzu Chi volunteers who drove the vehicle took turns and stopped only to catch a few hours of sleep so that they can get to Houston as soon as possible. Tzu Chi volunteers said it was a challenge to drive the 12-foot tall mobile clinic on the interstate for 1,500 miles from Los Angeles to Houston because every time a large truck passed by, you could feel the vehicle sway side to side.

One week after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, evacuees continue to arrive in Houston, filling up the Astrodome and other evacuation centers. Medical and dental needs are great in this area, so the Tzu Chi Mobile Clinic arrived to give assistance. The mobile clinic is equipped with two dental stations, x-ray and sanitation capabilities. To help operate the mobile clinic, one dentist and two dental assistants, Tzu Chi volunteers who are part of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), left Los Angeles late Tuesday evening and arrived in Houston early this morning. Along with Houston's Tzu Chi volunteer doctors and dentists, the team is ready to provide dental and medical assistance to evacuees.

Tzu Chi's disaster assistance began on Sept. 3 as volunteers set up tables at the Beaumont Ford Park, a shelter in Beaumont, Texas. Beaumont is an hour and a half by car from Tzu Chi's Southern regional office in Houston. Tzu Chi has given gift cards to about 2,000 of the 6,000 evacuees staying in Beaumont, so far, 2,000 people have received Tzu Chi's gift cards. Volunteers also gave 30-minute pre-paid phone cards. Tzu Chi's emergency gift cards will allow families to buy daily necessities, food, water, clothing and prescription medicine.

Although there are some basic items such as food, water and baby formula, Tzu Chi's gift cards give people a chance to purchase what they really need. A man who received the gift card this weekend, came back to Tzu Chi volunteers to say "thank you" because he was finally able to buy detergent to wash his clothes, a razor for shaving his week-long beard and nail clippers.

Tzu Chi will continue distributing gift cards in Beaumont as long as there is a need. Elsewhere in the United States and in 22 countries around the world including Canada, Paraguay, Malaysia, Australia, and Singapore, Tzu Chi volunteers have begun raising funds to assist those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

To help those impacted by Hurricane Katrina, please write checks to Tzu Chi and mail to Tzu Chi Foundation, 1100 S. Valley Center Avenue, San Dimas, CA 91773. For more information, please call (909) 447-7799.