Leanne Camilleri will always remember February 7, 2009 as Black Friday—the day she was among the 7,562 Australians displaced from their homes from the continent’s most destructive string of bushfires. Scorching temperatures, high winds and low humidity ignited the fires that destroyed over 1.1 million acres of land and injured or killed hundreds of people. The community of Marysville in Victoria was virtually destroyed in 26 minutes. All but 14 of the town’s 400 buildings were consumed, leaving those who survived with nothing.
“The state just erupted in fire. It was so hot that the iron on the roof was melting in pools. Engines in cars were melting. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and nothing I ever want to see again,” said David Jones, Melbourne Lions Club. Amidst the smoke and with the assistance of US$130,000 in major catastrophe and emergency grants awarded by the Lions Clubs International Foundation, Lions stepped up immediately with generous donations of supplies and the creation of a relief distribution center to help people like Camilleri.
Reaching remote Marysville was challenging, but Lions worked non-stop, overcoming many obstacles to make sure that donations reached those who needed them. “When you go from absolutely nothing to within a couple of weeks we’re comfortable, we’re feeling quite overwhelmed by all of that,” said Christine Adams, fire victim and Lion.
“It’s very hard to describe how you’re feeling, that you’re walking out of something and you have just lost everything. It wasn’t until people started ringing us and said, ‘Well, look, the Lions can help you out.’ I can’t get over the generosity of people. It’s not just simply, ‘we’re giving you something.’ But they’re also giving us part of themselves as well. I can’t thank them enough,” Camilleri explained.
From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives
When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions are able to rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).
In January 2015, LCIF provided 5 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$40,000.
These grants are adressing meet immediate needs in:
Malaysia, District 308-B1
$10,000 for flood relief
Thailand, District 310-B
$10,000 for flood relief
Sri Lanka, District 306-C2
$5,000 for flood relief
Brazil, District LC-5
$5,000 for fire relief
Malawi, District 412
$10,000 for flood relief
*Emergency grants listed by date approved.
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. 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.
The Chanis Lions Club in Panama took part in an activity organized by District D-1 to provide medical assistance for those in need. With the help of Lions Clubs Don Bosco, Meteti-Darien and Parque Lefevre, they were able to offer pediatric care, ophthalmology, gynecology, dentistry, optometry and general care. They were also able to perform laboratory tests and provide medicines through their local pharmacy and the support of Lions Clubs El Dorado, Agua Dulce, and Betania. Be sure to follow the Chanis Lions on Facebook for up-to-date information on their club projects.
How do you team up with other clubs to make an impact in your community?
In the next 15 years, we’ll see major breakthroughs for most people living in poor countries. In its annual letter, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation bets that polio, guinea worm, river blindness and blinding trachoma will be eradicated by 2030.
Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) will play a critical role in the elimination of both onchocerciasis (“river blindness”) and trachoma. LCIF’s SightFirst funds projects that address these diseases by creating high-quality, sustainable projects that distribute necessary medications, deliver eye care services, develop infrastructure, train personnel and/or provide rehabilitation and education in underserved communities.
Joni and I were in China two weeks ago, and what an incredible experience we had! We met a Lion who has the first guide dog in Beijing, welcomed a new district with 1600 members in Xianyang, chartered a new club with 200 members in Kunming and got to go with them to their first project.
This new club has adopted a children’s hospital for cerebral palsy patients. They will be providing them with financial support, food, medical and other supplies. We got to meet many of the children as well. It was a wonderful experience to see this new club in action!
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
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