Valuing education but lacking resources, parents in Kemba in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) built a one-room schoolhouse with mud and straw. Those raw materials proved to be less than ideal. The walls crumbled. The school lacked windows, desks, chairs and bathrooms. Rain poured through the holes in the roof. Its 140 students learned amid dismal conditions.
Aware that the literacy rate is about 30 percent in the DRC and illiteracy dims work prospects and limits even access to health care, the Acqui Terme Host Lions Club in Italy set out to help Kemba parents. The club teamed up with the Kinshasa Bondeko Lions to build a new primary school.
The Acqui Terme Host Lions drew up plans for a school that would encompass four buildings: two with 12 classrooms each, one to house four staff offices and a library, and a separate building for restroom facilities. The Lions held a gala to raise funds to support the project and received help from other local Lions clubs. The Acqui e Colline Acquesi, Cortemilia e Valli, Nizza-Canelli and Carpentras Comptat Venaissin clubs donated time, money or materials.
The Lions then turned to Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) for a US$35,750 Standard Grant to raise the remaining funds needed to build and equip the school. LCIF’s most common grant, Standard Grants provide matching funds from US$10,000 to US$100,000 for large-scale Lions humanitarian efforts. Standard Grants generally provide capital funding for equipment and infrastructure needs. Typically funded are mobile health units, hospices, medical equipment, blind and disabled centers, eye clinics and schools in developing countries.
Drawing up the plans proved to be the easy part of the project. Located approximately 137 miles southwest of the capital city of Kinshasa, Kemba does not have a strong roadway system. Most Kemba residents get around on foot, so the streets are not equipped to handle heavy vehicle traffic. The main thoroughfares in the area are rivers, but there isn’t a river close to Kemba. So building materials were brought downriver by boat and then taken via trucks to their final destination.
The Lions persevered and the new school is now up and running, providing a safe place for students and teachers alike. Lions expect this new school to serve up to 240 students when children from nearby villages start attending. The roof does not leak and the floor is made of concrete, not dirt. There are wooden doors and shutters on the windows. Students and teachers now have desks and chairs.
The work of the Acqui Terme Host Lions did not end once the school was built; they have pledged to send books, notebooks, pencils and other supplies to the school for the next five years. Thanks to Lions, Kemba now has one more tool to use in the fight against illiteracy and poverty.
To find out more about LCIF Standard grants, visit lcif.org and search for “standard grants.”
*This story is adapted from the original article in the April 2015 edition of LION Magazine.
Lion Michelle Ballard –mother of Jalen, the 2014-15 Essay Contest Winner –coordinated the very first beeping egg hunt for blind and visually impaired children in her community of Sylvania, Ohio. With the help of the Toledo Police Department Bomb Squad, approximately 85 eggs were made for the event.
It was at the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles, California last year where Michelle learned of “The Rachel Project” and met David Hyche –the father behind it all. “He told me how they donate the materials to make beeping eggs to local groups. I requested our area be put on the list and we were approved!” Michelle announced in her event invite on Facebook.
March 21st was an exciting day for everyone. David was there in support of Sylvania’s first beeping egg hunt, as well as the fire department, a representative from the Ability Center with an assistance dog, and even their local baseball mascot, Muddy the Mudhen was in attendance. There was a great turnout and even the weather cooperated with them to be able to hold the egg hunt outside.
Since the children were able to hear the eggs beeping, they didn’t need help from anyone to guide them to the eggs. Michelle described it as an “awesome independent experience” during her interview with their local town newspaper, The Blade.
Have you hosted a beeping egg hunt for children who are blind or visually impaired in your area? Share your story with us!
As Chairperson of your Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), I have the privilege of traveling the globe to see the amazing work you Lions are doing. Every day, you provide disaster relief, empower our young people and serve our communities. You also remain committed to saving sight. Whether you are conducting vision screenings, distributing eyeglasses or medicine, you are giving the gift of sight.
Together with LCIF and partners like The Carter Center, Lions have helped to restore sight to 7.7 million people through cataract surgeries; prevented serious vision loss for more than 30 million; provided over 271 million treatments for river blindness; built or expanded 660 eye care hospitals and clinics; and trained 681,000 eye care specialists and eye health workers. Congratulations, Lions!
As we celebrate these achievements, know that there is still much work to be done. With your contribution, LCIF will be able to support Lions all over the world who continue making a positive impact in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
Thank you for commitment to saving and restoring sight.
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the LCIF March Newsletter.
We met many Lions during our trip to India a few weeks ago, as we often do on our visits, but during this trip we met a club that has been doing extraordinary things for their local youth.
The Delhi Lions Club brought us to visit a kindergarten through 10th grade school. What we found out while we were there was that this school has been operated by the Delhi Lions for 52 years!
There are so many other ways we as Lions can make a huge impact in the life of a child. We’ve even encouraged Lions to participate in “Engaging Our Youth” for the Centennial Service Challenge. We saw the Delhi Lions’ dedication to education, and the proof could be seen in the smiling faces of the students we met that day.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
Interested in a Lions leadership position beyond the club level? Wonder how a Lions Clubs International district is structured and operates? Thinking about your long term future as a Lion? This presentation is for you!
Follow three Past Club Presidents as they continue their Lions journey at the club, district, and zone levels. The webinar discusses the importance of a mission statement, a typical district-level committee structure, a possible path to the zone chairperson role and suggestions for continued service at the club level. Join us for an enlightening webinar that could lead you to your next Lions dream!
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