TAIPEI (The China Post) — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps (TRMPC) is still doing all that they can within Taiwan to help people in need. The NGO is scheduled to head out to Mount Ali in Chiayi County to provide temporary medical care for indigenous groups on Aug. 15, in one of their first trips since the pandemic started.
Since 1995, TRMPC, a private, non-government and non-profit organization, has brought short-term medical clinics to Taiwan mountainous regions and underdeveloped countries around the world. In 2003, it joined “the Conference of Non-governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations CONGO” as the only Taiwanese NGO.
Funded by Dr. Liu Chi-chun, the TRMPC has done 390 medical missions in 49 countries globally with the help of over 17,000 volunteers. Each volunteer pays for their own transportation and necessities, while Dr. Liu covers everything else. Although the organization did receive NGO funds for a few years, the required payments were mostly paid by Dr. Liu, his team, and considerate donors.
“Safety” and “security” are crucial to Dr. Liu. He always pre-visits the locations to review the safety level for his team and he strongly regards his work as something not to feel self-righteous about.
“Everyone wants to help those in need. If you have the chance to volunteer, you should be grateful that your expertise helped save lives.”
“Twenty-five years ago,” Dr. Liu sai: “I came across the newspaper that stated urgent help was needed in Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County and so, I went. That’s how Taiwan Root began. It was as simple as that.”
From the outset, the TRMPC focused on the indigenous populations in Taiwan’s mountain regions. Horrendous traffic conditions, poverty and an overall lower standard of living made them vulnerable to chronic health problems.
On one medical mission, a volunteering couple heading to Hsinchu had to take two separate vehicles so that, in case one car gets into trouble, the other could still go and help patients.
International missions are often for places where poverty or natural disasters hit hard, meaning local populations do not have sufficient medical supplies.
In 2002, Dr. Liu brought 45 volunteers to the Amazon River Basin. Among the many patients, Dr. Liu specifically recalled a frantic mother who brought her ill son to the TRMPC clinic.
The local doctors had told her that they couldn’t save her son and should bring him back home to wait for the inevitable. Devastated, the mother heard about Dr. Liu’s temporary clinic and begged for them to save her son.
The TRMPC team examined the boy and found an infection from a splinter in his neck that caused inflammation. After removing the piece of wood, the volunteers gave the boy antibiotics, ultimately leading to his full recovery.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected TRMPC’s work, with all trips abroad halted. Even though Dr. Liu and his team want to help foreign countries in need of medical care, he is adamant to be loyal to his responsibilities: if he can’t guarantee the safety of his team at any given location, he will not bring any volunteers.
Volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds. As long as you are healthy, you are qualified to register via Taiwan Root’s website for all 18 projects (12 domestic and 6 international) on April 1 at noon annually.
Dr. Liu openly encourages the young generation to apply. He advises that one must be collaborative with their peers and offer help when someone’s in need.
Like the TRMPC motto, it is “Time for Taiwan to feedback its Love to the World”.