Flood Relief in Peru
May
5

LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, April 2017

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) offers a variety of funding options to support various stages for disaster relief operations, including Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Community Recovery and Major Catastrophe Grants.

For districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis, Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year. Community Recovery Grants aid districts interested in supporting short-term clean-up and repair efforts in situations where other organizations have already addressed immediate needs. Lions district governors may submit proposals for community recovery grants.

In April 2017, LCIF awarded 7 Emergency Grants and 1 Community Recovery Grant totaling US$85,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

Ecuador, District G-2
US$10,000 for flood relief

Peru, District H-1
US$10,000 for flood relief

Brazil, District LD-9
US$15,000 for community recovery

Argentina, District O-3
US$10,000 for flood relief

New Zealand, District 202-L
US$10,000 for flood relief

Brazil, District L-3
US$10,000 for flood relief

Paraguay, District M-1
US$10,000 for windstorm relief

Canada, District U-1
US$10,000 for flood relief

 

Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.

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May
3

Touchstone Story #18–Campaign SightFirst

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“There is always a sense of adventure in a new enterprise, and the Lions’ way of serving the blind is something new in the world.” In 1927, just two years after challenging Lions Clubs International to become Knights of the Blind, Helen Keller spoke these words—a validation that her call to action had been answered. More than 60 years later, however, there remained much work to be done. It was time for Lions to embark on another new enterprise.

In the late 1980s, blindness plagued 38 million people around the world. Left unchecked, experts predicted that number would more than double to 80 million by the next generation.

Despite this grim situation, there was a distinct ray of hope. Experts estimated that perhaps 80 percent of all cases of blindness were preventable, treatable or even curable. And about 90 percent of people with vision impairments lived in developing nations, where significant but surmountable challenges impeded progress. The situation was dire, but not unsolvable.

After more than a year of initial work, the Lions Clubs International Foundation board of trustees officially inaugurated Campaign SightFirst at the June 1991 meeting in Brisbane, Australia. It would immediately become the most ambitious and far-reaching fundraising drive in the organization’s history.

The goal of Campaign SightFirst was to raise US$130 million by June 1994 and to aim to conquer blindness, in all its diverse forms, through grant projects driven by local Lions. With that in mind, Lions focused on creating programs that could provide direct, practical benefit to people in the developing world with easily preventable or treatable afflictions.

The most prevalent cause of blindness in the early 1990s was undoubtedly cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens typically related to aging, but occasionally caused by a congenital defect. Cataract surgery had long been common, safe, and very effective in the United States, but developing countries had to contend with major barriers. The lack of education about the causes, symptoms and treatments for cataracts was one obstacle. Unfounded fears of diagnosis and treatment was another.

Assuming a broad education campaign could help raise awareness, there were still many inherent challenges to overcome—lack of accessible medical services in remote areas, lack of transportation or communications infrastructure to facilitate treatments, and lack of trained eye-care professionals, facilities, and technologies.

So, Campaign SightFirst focused on mobilizing funds and volunteers to remove as many barriers as possible. One example: programs created to provide transportation to treatment centers. Countless local volunteers assisted medical authorities and provided patients with transportation to and from eye hospitals, prompting Past International President J. Frank Moore III, who served from 2001 to 2002, to remark proudly that Lions not only donate money to a cause, they give generously and actively of their time. “That is one of the key components that others see in … being able to partner with us—knowing that we do have that manpower component,” Moore said.

Indeed, SightFirst gathered powerful partners in its quest to eradicate blindness. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, the World Health Organization, The Carter Center, and many other government agencies and nongovernment organizations aided Lions’ efforts to combat not only cataracts, but also diabetic retinopathy, trachoma and onchocerciasis (river blindness).

After three years of tireless efforts worldwide, on April 14, 1994, Lions surpassed their goal, raising a total of US$130,335,734, and by July 1, 1994, the figure surpassed US$140 million. In the coming decade, these funds helped launch and support numerous programs and projects throughout the developing world.

As of December 2005, US$182 million had been raised for 758 projects in 89 countries. These projects included constructing or expanding 207 eye hospitals, providing 65 million treatments for river blindness, training 83,500 eye care professionals, and launching the world’s first initiative to combat childhood blindness. Lions-funded cataract surgeries also restored sight to some 4.6 million people.

The accomplishments of projects funded by SightFirst I were so inspiring and effective that a second fundraising campaign, called Campaign SightFirst II, was officially launched at the 2005-2006 International Convention in Hong Kong.

Once again, the Knights of the Blind had responded to a call for action. But there were millions more to be helped, in the developed as well as the developing world, and SightFirst would soon evolve yet again to meet this worldwide need.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series.

World Immunization Week 2017 banner
Apr
30

#VaccinesWork and are Important to Everyone

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LCIF would like to thank Lions and our partners for another successful World Immunization Week.  Below are 5 interesting facts about vaccines that you can use to better arm yourself for discussions about their importance, efficacy and safety.

5 facts about vaccinations

The work does not stop here! Donate today to ensure we can continue to get vaccines to the people who need them most.

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World Immunization Week 2017 banner
Apr
27

#VaccinesWork to Build a Secure World

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Dear Lions,

Measles is a highly contagious disease. Those that survive are often left with serious complications, including brain damage, hearing loss and blindness. Perhaps the saddest part about this is that, for about US$1, a simple vaccine provides immunity against measles.

Several years ago, we Lions committed to raising US$30 million for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, by 2017. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) will match our contributions, for a total of up to US$60 million mobilized for the fight against measles.

We still need to raise approximately US$7 million to fulfill our promise to the world’s children. I am asking each and every Lion to renew your dedication to the fight against this deadly disease. Together, we have vaccinated millions of children. But the work is not done and we cannot rest until it is. Please make a donation today to LCIF’s measles fund so that no more families have to endure the heartbreaking loss of a child to measles.

Providing measles vaccinations is important to the children who receive them and to their families. But it is important to a much wider audience, too. With a simple vaccine, we can prevent pain, suffering, debilitating complications and even death. When we take away the risk of preventable disease, we allow families, communities and entire countries to focus on other pressing needs, like education, employment and economic growth. Vaccines work to make our world safer and more secure.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation

Donate to LCIF

Apr
26

Touchstone Story #53–Lions on Campus

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 “We wanted something more.”

That’s how Kjerstin Owren Myre and Hans Holand explain the origins of Lions Club Bergen Student, a campus club at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Students at the University of Bergen were active in debate clubs, student organizations and other groups, but nothing was providing the challenge, or the foundation, that allowed them to learn, grow and lead.

“We wanted an experience that combines the fun of being a student with professional organization work and leadership development . . . to explore our passion about humanitarian work,” the pair said, “the opportunity to initiate projects and manage them with other high-potential students.”

So what happened?

“We discovered Lions. Since then, we haven’t looked back.”

Campus Lions Clubs around the world operate like traditional clubs, but they’re located on college or university campuses. Membership is mostly for students but can include university staff and faculty. There are more than 500 campus clubs with 13,000 members around the world, with the first campus club chartered in 1999.

Lions Club Bergen Student has organized Aid in Meeting (AIM), a cultural exchange and aid program that sends students to Uganda and Zambia, sometimes to rural areas that lack electricity, to work with other charitable or humanitarian organizations in support of local communities there. Lions drawn to AIM are self-starters and future leaders, and Lions Club Bergen Student has become a resource for students who want to broaden their horizons and take on humanitarian work but don’t yet have much experience.

“Our job is to identify their individual motivation and passion,” said Myre and Holland, “and to direct the sum of individual passion and motivation toward the club’s common goal: helping people in need, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Taking on responsibility and leadership—serving their friends and neighbors—builds leadership skills and strengthens responsibility for members of campus clubs. Campus clubs regularly offer “alternative spring breaks,” sending students to build houses as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity instead of partying on the beach during a weeklong vacation from college classes.

Campus clubs work locally, as well. The Sam Houston State University Lions Club of Texas has, for going on five years, adopted a two-mile stretch of Highway 75 outside of Huntsville, Texas. Twice a semester, the Lions clean the roadside, often collecting more than a dozen bags of trash that can be taken to recycling centers. The Sam Houston State Lions also work with their sponsoring club, the Huntsville Lions, on an annual Christmas parade and other charity events.

Campus clubs introduce younger members to service with the Lions and create opportunities for those campus Lions to join another Lions club when they graduate and relocate.

Wing-Kun Tam, Lions Club International President from 2011-12, attended the charter ceremony for the University of Georgia Campus Lions Club in 2012. “I believe engaging young people can bring energy into our clubs and provide new insights,” he said. “To ensure the future, we must give young people the opportunity to lead.”

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series.

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