As Lions Clubs International has grown increasingly global, so has the range of problems members are tackling. Lions are playing a key role in the worldwide fight against measles and rubella—vaccine-preventable diseases that threaten the lives of millions of children in the world’s poorest regions.
Lions were drawn into the fight because measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children despite the availability of a safe and inexpensive vaccine. Rubella can have serious effects on pregnant women and cause fetal death or congenital birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome. The spread of the two diseases often can be prevented at the same time through the administration of a combined measles rubella vaccine.
Through the One Shot, One Life: Lions Measles Initiative, Lions have joined a sweeping effort to stamp out measles and rubella by helping to ensure that vast numbers of children in developing countries are vaccinated.
The Lions first entered the fight in 2010 when they joined the Measles & Rubella Initiative, a global partnership formed in 2001 by the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Foundation. Lions Clubs International Foundation and Lions clubs around the world have thrown their support behind the effort to stamp out the diseases.
Lions-led activities are varied and include mobilizing tens of millions of dollars to support supplemental measles campaigns to vaccinate children, advocating for increased support for immunization systems during World Immunization Week, and providing hands-on social mobilization during measles vaccination campaigns to increase awareness and ensure that all children get vaccinated.
Lions are putting their organizational and education skills to work to help mobilize communities in making a difference. “Vaccines can’t save lives if children don’t receive them,” said Past District Governor Dr. Tebebe Yemane-Berhan, a member of the LCIF Steering Committee from Ethiopia.
An example is found in the African nation of Botswana, where local Lions helped the Ministry of Health conduct an intensive five-day measles vaccination campaign by going door-to-door in the town of Selebi-Phikwe. Lions talked “one-on-one with mothers on their doorsteps to make sure they understood the importance of the vaccinations,” according to Obakeng Kanthaga, who served in 2011 as president of Leo Clubs International District 412, overseeing 50 Leo clubs in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Farther north in Botswana, local Lions in Francistown sought to make sure vaccinations were understood as safe by organizing actors to stage dramatic shows demonstrating the vaccination process. Botswanan Lions also distributed T-shirts promoting the campaign and paid for 3,500 bright orange hats that identified the public health workers. They also paid for and distributed 10,000 posters and 100,000 flyers publicizing the vaccination campaign.
Lions’ service has paid off. In 2000, a year before the Measles and Rubella Initiative was created, more than 562,000 children worldwide died from complications related to measles. By 2013, the annual number of such deaths had fallen 74 percent to 145,700.
Lions stepped up their efforts to fight measles and rubella in mid-2013 by partnering with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership that funds immunization programs for the world’s poorest countries. As part of the Lions partnership with Gavi, Lions pledged to raise US$30 million to fund Gavi’s measles and rubella programs. Matching funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government will boost that total to $60 million.
The job isn’t finished. But according to Past International President Wayne Madden, who also served as the LCIF Chairperson in 2013-2014, Lions’ work with vaccine partners is “increasing access to immunization, strengthening communities and savings lives in the process.”
When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Emergency grants provide up to US$10,000 for districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.
In May 2016, LCIF awarded 9 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$80,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:
Thailand, District 310 E
US$10,000 for windstorm relief
Brazil, District LD 5
US$10,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, District 306 B1
US$5,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, District 306 C1
US$5,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, District 306 A1
US$5,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, District 306 B2
US$5,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, District 306 C2
US$5,000 for flood relief
Rep of Sri Lanka, MD 306
US$30,000 for flood relief
Rep of Bangladesh, District 315 B4
US$5,000 for cyclone relief
Remember, your charitable gift to LCIF enables compassionate humanitarian service around the world. Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.
Did you know two of the top five most visited websites are social media sites? In an average day, 4.5 billion likes are generated on Facebook! There’s no doubt that Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn and other social media sites allow users to connect with a wide audience, but in a sea of posts, how can your club get noticed?
One Lion found success in a social media campaign. He managed to grow his club from 21 members to 63 members in just one year. How did Zone Chairperson Jerhavon Pearman do it?
According to Chairperson Pearman (District 18-I), the key to a thriving club is “the next generation.” Everyone wants to attract younger members and bring them into their clubs, but you need to get their attention, and nothing works for that like social media!
When the GGC Campus Lions Club, from Georgia Gwinnett College, first chartered they formed a Public Relations Committee of computer savvy members. The team worked together to create a Facebook and Instagram page for their club. Their main goal was to share with other campus members all the service projects they were doing to better the community. They also decided to pay for a Facebook advertisement. This helped them expand their social media reach. Their Facebook page was promoted on pages of different websites that helped get their name out there, and got people interested in their club.
Facebook ads can be done for free. These ads can get your page more views, likes, comments or shares. They allow you to add a website address as well, which can help drive traffic to your E Clubhouse site. Another feature is the ability to choose the audience you target. You just need to complete some form fields and you can target by location, age, gender, interests and more. GGC Campus Lions Club focused on location, aiming to attract people who were near them.
Another tactic the GGC Campus Lions Club used was to post statuses in different languages. Chairperson Pearman speaks and writes in six different languages and would create content in all of them to post on their Facebook page. This helped them reach an even larger demographic, and helped them get a diverse group of Lions together!
At the conclusion of the year, GGC Campus Lions Club gained 42 members, and Chairperson Pearman attributes the success to social media. He said, “Not only does it increase membership, but it creates this sense of proudness! You as a Lion, you are showing your pride and your natural character.”
Learn more about the GGC Campus Lions Club and other ways you can use social media to help you club by viewing our webinar, “5 Ways to Increase Your Clubs Social Media Engagement”.
Lions around the world know that Lions Quest is LCIF’s social-emotional learning program. Social-emotional learning has been proven again and again to decrease problem behaviors like bullying and substance use and increase positive behavior patterns like self-discipline and conflict resolution.
There’s more to Lions Quest, though. Lions Quest also emphasizes service-learning; students learn important leadership skills by organizing and carrying out
school and community service projects. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, students who are involved in helping out in the community are happier at home, less likely to use alcohol or other drugs, and more successful in, and committed to school.
Lions Quest is alive and well in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District in Eagle Mountain, Texas, USA, and the students there are very
involved in service learning. Students at Ed Willkie Middle School in Fort Worth kicked off their community service by greeting veterans, active military, and guests as they handed out buttons, programs, and flags at the Saginaw Veterans Day Memorial Service.
After the ceremony, they helped serve each guest a BBQ dinner. When it was over, the students cleaned up. Students from nearby Saginaw and Boswell high schools also pitched in. Students also wrapped boxes of donations for a local
food pantry organization.
It was a day filled with helping others. As one student put it, “This was fun to help those who have given so we can be students today.”
Social mobilization is a form of advocacy that Lions do very well! And, it is an important part of Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF) partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. LCIF is committed to raising US$30 million by 2017, the 100 year anniversary of Lions Clubs International. If Lions and LCIF meet this goal working alongside Gavi, the contributions will be matched by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, allowing LCIF and Lions to provide US$60 million for vaccinations.
Aside from donating to the One Shot, One Life: Lions’ Measles Initiative, social mobilization provides Lions the opportunity for hands-on work to fight measles within their own communities.
Lions’ social mobilization efforts include posting flyers, radio ads, television debates, mobile public announcements, and street theater to demonstrate the importance of vaccination. Lions organize inauguration festivities and serve as volunteers at vaccination centers. Lions often go door-to-door to educate parents on the dangers of measles and the value of vaccination. The video above shows the Lions of Kenya participating in social mobilization activities in May 2016.
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