Every child should be vaccinated against measles and rubella, but progress on eliminating these diseases has stalled. Everyone should play a role in closing this gap – governments, health workers, parents, civil society and international organizations. The World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting the importance of immunization for all throughout life.
Watch this video to see how Lions are taking a stand against measles.
Lions have been planting trees to help save the environment since the organization’s earliest days. But in 2011 International President Wing-Kun Tam of Hong Kong, China, challenged the association to join in the effort as never before by asking Lions to plant 1 million trees within one year. “We want to wrap the earth in greenery,” Tam told members in LION Magazine.
Lions, known for going above and beyond expectations when presented with a challenge, took Tam’s goal and blew it sky high.
Multiple District 324 in Southern India played a large role in the initiative’s success. On August 25, 2011, more than 100,000 Lions from 2,855 clubs coordinated with local governments, schools, police, family and friends to plant 3.4 million trees in just 12 hours—a world record. In total, from July 2011 to June 2012, Lions worldwide planted 15 million trees.
The challenge helped address a critical environmental problem. Due to human activity, the Earth’s forests have been disappearing at alarming rates, especially since 1980. Deforestation impacts the whole planet. Converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, trees provide fresh air and stabilize many ecosystems. At the same time, they give shade from the sun, provide a livelihood for millions and beautify the landscape. Trees are the breath of life.
Lions’ monumental effort took much preparation. In fact, Multiple District 324 had been planning the event ever since hearing then-Second Vice President Tam mention the idea at Lions Day at the United Nations in 2009. The Lions of Southern India took time to identify locations—such as school campuses, private farms, major roads and protected forests—where trees were needed and worked with the Indian government to obtain some of the saplings for free.
India’s Lions put just as much effort into what would happen to the young trees after the big event. For about two years, the saplings would need to be cared for by volunteers. In many cases, the Lions turned to the students who had assisted in planting the trees for help. For example, students in a village near Hyderabad took charge of 1,450 saplings, making sure the trees had enough water and care to thrive. In return, the youth received an education in ecology and experienced the joy of watching their trees grow.
Lions in India helped take Tam’s tree planting to new heights in 2011. By sharing the excitement of helping the environment with the next generation, they also planted seeds of stewardship and volunteerism that will grow for years to come.
April is Leo Club Awareness Month! To celebrate and recognize Leo clubs, the Lions Blog will feature stories about Leo service projects around the world. Today’s story was submitted by Leo Lily Jameson, President of the Lago Vista Leo Club in Texas, USA.
Almost sixteen years ago, the Lago Vista Lions Club sponsored the charter of the Lago Vista Leo Club. Today these two clubs work together on a variety of service projects to address the needs of their community. Three years ago, the Lago Vista Leos began their Thanksgiving Boxes project with the goal of providing families with traditional Thanksgiving dinners. Now the event has become an annual day long affair supported by Lago Vista Leos and Lions.
The Leo Club worked with a local store to secure a weekend for the fundraiser. Then, the club officers coordinated time slots for Leos to gather, sort, and pack the boxes of food.
On the day of fundraiser, the Leos passed out their fliers with food listed by aisle to make shoppers’ purchases easier. The fundraiser exceeded the club’s expectations. The Lago Vista community responded with such fervor for the project that the club ended the day with over two thousand pounds of food! Beyond Thanksgiving, the Leos were able to provide a sustained impact with enough staple and pantry food to feed thirty-five families for a month.
In their signature project, the Lago Vista Leos take on a great deal of initiative with more than a third of their club involved in some capacity. Further, they invite their sponsoring Lions to work jointly on the project to pack boxes and collect cash to later buy turkeys. Their advice to Leo clubs interested in organizing a similar project is to contact local places of worship and schools to see what needs there are in your community, especially during the holiday season.
The Leo Club Program gives young people the opportunity to serve their communities, develop leadership skills, make new friends and have fun! Learn more about the Leo Club Program and find out how to start a Leo club in your community.
World Immunization Week began Sunday. Alongside Gavi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and other Lions partners, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is working to close the immunization gap.
Closing the gap means families know where and when to go for immunization, there are enough health workers, local leaders support health workers, and political leaders provide enough funding and support needed to pay for vaccines, health worker salaries and transportation.
It breaks my heart to know that 400 people still die every day from this disease. Measles is highly contagious and can cause blindness, deafness and other complications. We can prevent this with a simple, cost-effective vaccine.
World Immunization Week is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of measles and the importance of vaccinations. Lions around the world are hosting events all week to show their commitment to the One Shot, One Life: Lions Measles Initiative.
Tune in all week to our blog, Facebook page and Twitter page for interesting statistics and information about immunization efforts around the world. Be sure to tag us in your own social media posts to let us know about your clubs’ activities, and search #vaccineswork to get in on the conversation. Thank you for your dedication to eliminating measles!
Together in Service,
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the LCIF newsletter here.
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is proud to participate in World Immunization Week, April 24-30, 2016!
Every day, Lions are mounting social mobilization campaigns, talking to parents and community leaders, and helping to save the lives of countless children from measles. Watch this encouraging message from Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Then consider making a donation to LCIF today so this important work can continue.
Together, we can close the immunization gap!
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