Touchstone Story #15–Space for Care
According to locals, Quito, a city in Ecuador, is la Mitad del Mundo, “the Middle of the World.” Located just a few miles from the equator, it is home to more than 2 million people. Just as it’s possible to stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere in Ecuador, it’s possible to get a taste of the past (colonial-era cathedrals) and the future (a brand-new subway system).
In 1973, a 100-bed children’s hospital and rehabilitation center were constructed in Quito, sponsored by the Quito (Sixth of December) Lions Club, which raised $20,000 from club members and local businesses. The center was designed with special consideration for children whose parents could not otherwise afford medical treatment. In addition to providing surgical care, the center also offered treatment for polio and birth defects that had been nearly wiped out in other parts of the world. More than that, the center provided classes and instruction in basic reading, writing and mathematics skills to the patients, in some cases the first opportunity for these children to attend such classes.
In addition to offering basic education, the rehabilitation center taught older children how to repair broken appliances. Some youth used this opportunity as vocational training, and others became instructors themselves at the center.
Lions Clubs International sponsors humanitarian missions, first-response disaster relief and vision screenings around the world, but projects like the rehabilitation center in Quito can become a hub for even larger initiatives. In 1947, the Panama City Lions Club in Panama, began raising money for the construction of a children’s hospital, built entirely without government funding. In 1962, a cancer detection center opened in Mumbai, India, inside the Tata Memorial Hospital, sponsored by the Bombay Lions Club. It was the only center of its kind in India.
In 2014, Stella Agbogun, an administrator of the Radiotherapy Department at Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, and the district 404 B governor, coordinated efforts between the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the Lions Clubs International Foundation to build Mercy Home, which offers temporary accommodations for patients and their families who have traveled hundreds of miles or more to receive treatment in Lagos and have nowhere else to stay.
Care comes in many forms: prevention and screening, surgery and rehabilitation, a safe and affordable room to sleep in while a loved one receives treatment. Around the world and for a hundred years, Lions Clubs International members have been pioneers of care.
Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. They’re a great resource for promoting service at your club meetings!