Jan
7

LCIF’s Microenterprise Project is Changing Lives in Kenya

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Lions are working to reduce poverty. Through microenterprise, small loans are awarded to individuals to help them purchase supplies and equipment needed to start their own businesses. These individuals are then able to provide for themselves and their families, and to contribute to their communities.

LCIF believes that microenterprise is an important opportunity to support and promote economic well-being for men and women who live at or below the poverty level, have limited skills and wish to improve their financial situation.

The Lions of District 411-A in Kenya, in partnership with ASA Kenya, secured a microenterprise grant from LCIF to help women in and around Kibera. Watch the video above to see the impact of the project in that region.

Potter Kai Fong with Japanese Exchange Student
Jan
7

Leo to Lion Spotlight: Potter Kai Fong

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The Leo to Lion Spotlight will feature former Leos who have chosen to continue serving their communities as Lions to inspire other Leos to follow in their footsteps and join a Lions club. Potter has been a Leo Lion member of the Batu Pahat Lions club in Malaysia for over a year. He is currently serving as club president.

  1. How many years were you a Leo, and which club were you in?

I served as a Leo for 9 years total, in both the Alpha Leo club of SMK Dato Syed and the Omega Leo club of IPG Kampus Perlis.

  1. What is something unique or interesting about your Leo Club?

My Alpha Leo Club was established in one of the secondary schools, and we enjoyed working with school authority to provide services to our school and to our society. When I proposed forming an Omega Leo club at my teaching college, they loved the idea and now the Leo club is one of the best place for the students to be trained to become a leader.

  1. What made you decide to become a Lion?

I received a lot of opportunities when I was a Leo, including organizing forums for more than 1000 delegates and speaking at International Convention, as well receiving the first ever leadership medal awarded to a Leo by PIP Dr. Tam. I really wanted to share the experience I gained through the Leo Club Program as a Lion. I enjoy assisting and working together with my Lions club members, and I see being a Lion as another platform for me to further my leadership skills.

  1. What is the best thing about being a Lion?

The best thing being a Lion is the friendship network being a member offers. When you are a Lion, there is no difficulty talking to another individual who is a Lion member, there are always stories to share about what we do in our clubs. I also enjoy the atmosphere in my club, where the senior Lions guide the new members and new members share their creative ideas for new service opportunities.

  1. Do you have any advice for other Leos thinking about becoming a Lion?

For me, I would really urge the Leos to join a Lions club. I love this quote from John F. Kennedy, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” We born in this family, if we are not the one to join and strengthen the family in future, then who? Join us now!

Visit our website to learn more about becoming a Lion. If you are a former Leo and would like to be featured in the Leo to Lion Spotlight, please email us at leo2lion@lionsclubs.org.

Villagers line up to receive relief materials from Lions club members
Jan
4

Update on Chennai Flood Relief

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Recently, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded US$200,000 to aid in relief efforts for the flooding in Chennai, India. Click on the video below to see the devastation caused by the flooding and what relief operations there look like.

Screenshot of Chennai relief video

 

Whenever and wherever disasters strike, Lions are often among the first to offer aid—and LCIF is right there with them, ready to support their efforts with funding assistance through Lions disaster relief programs. Working together, LCIF, local Lions and Lions leaders assess the urgent needs and quickly deliver the aid most required by victims.

Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund so this important work can continue.

Dec
30

Lions in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day

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Once again, LCI will have a float featured in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.  The theme of  the 2016 Rose Bowl is “Find your Adventure,” which will celebrate the 100 years of the National Park Service.  The theme of our float is “Camps for All Abilities.”

This year, our float will be the 54th unit in the parade, roughly 1/3 of the way through the line-up.  Placement in the parade is determined by a lottery.  The parade is telecast in the US on the three major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS).  Cable station HGTV televises the parade in its entirety and without commercial interruption.

Watch this video above to see how Lions camps around the world are making an impact on young people of all abilities.

Shambhu Bahadur Bhandari, 76, gratefully receives food from Lions.
Dec
28

Lions Critical to Relief in Nepal After Earthquake

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A 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal last April 25. Two weeks later, another 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the country, and thousands of aftershocks continued to rattle the region in the following months. This devastating series of earthquakes shook the country’s infrastructure and the spirit of the Nepalese people.

Known locally as the “Gorkha” earthquake, it killed more than 9,000 people and injured 23,000. Entire villages were leveled, historic sites were damaged or demolished, and nearly 8 million people were left homeless. Compounding the disaster, landslides and avalanches soon followed, including an avalanche on Mt. Everest. This was the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in nearly a century. Though experts had warned for decades that Nepal was vulnerable to a deadly earthquake, the country was woefully unprepared.

Right after the first earthquake, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded a US$100,000 Major Catastrophe grant to the Lions of Nepal. Major Catastrophe grants provide significant funds for disasters with major international impact and can be used to address both immediate and long-term needs.

More than 1,500 Nepalese Lions were at a district conference when the initial tremors started. These local Lion leaders formed a committee to organize relief efforts, collecting whatever materials they could find. Lions were able to quickly assemble relief kits, which included rice, salt and mattresses. European Lions sent water purification tools, and Indian Lions sent tarps and solar lights. The Lions of Bangladesh sent 7,000 blankets, and the Lions of Gujrat in Pakistan provided 5,000 relief kits. Packing centers were established in Gorkha, Dhading and Nuwakot so the kits could be distributed.

Though many of them were victims themselves, the Lions of Nepal immediately went to work. The Lions quickly realized that the community blood supply was insufficient to keep up with the increasing demand. They organized blood drives, collecting more than 4,000 pints of blood in a single day. The collection quickly surpassed storage capacity at many blood banks.

Within three days, clubs throughout Nepal were engaged in relief operations. Just as materials were running low, more began to arrive. Working together, Lions established additional packing centers at Kathmandu, Nepalguj, Butwal, Narayanghat, Pokhara, Birganj, Janakpur and Biratnagar. In addition to the rice, salt and mattresses, these centers packed tarps, noodles, blankets and other materials. Teams of Lions distributed more than 17,000 relief kits in the affected areas, serving individuals, families, schools and health centers.

Heavy rains poured down in the days following the earthquake, so the tarps included in the relief kits provided much-needed shelter. Lions built shelters in several communities and even served meals there. Many people were reluctant to re-enter their homes, afraid another earthquake or aftershock could destroy any building that might still be standing; they slept outside in tents and makeshift camps.

With the funds from LCIF and the concentration of Lions in Nepal, gathering supplies was not the most difficult part of the relief operations. The difficulty came in getting the supplies from the packing centers to the victims. Nepal is a mountainous country with many isolated communities, so moving supplies through the rugged terrain presented a serious challenge. Many of the residents had to come down from the mountains to collect their kits. Lions also used helicopters to deliver supplies to the most remote areas. On the way back to the packing centers, those helicopters transported people who needed medical attention.

“When we reached the places others had not yet reached, the people welcomed us with open arms. It looked like they were smiling for the first time since the quake,” says Lion Pankaj Pradhan, a past council chairperson of Multiple District 325. “All of them shared their hardship stories with us. Through their heartbreaking stories, we could see their resilience. They were extremely grateful for our support.”

Getting people to load, unload and carry relief supplies proved problematic, so local Lions did most of the work themselves. Lions carried materials on foot to areas that were not accessible to automobiles, working amidst the tremors and aftershocks to ensure that critical supplies made it to the people who needed them. Lions were even working in the area of the second earthquake’s epicenter, but the Nepalese Lions continued on, undeterred by the risks to their own safety.

Ten days after the initial tremors, local Lions reached Danuar Basti in the Sidhupalchowk district. Until then, no other relief agencies had reached this remote area.

The Lions saw utter destruction when they arrived, with many people wearing the white garments traditionally worn by those mourning the loss of family members. People were huddled under improvised shelters and in dire need of assistance. Lions provided relief kits with tents and blankets, and victims received medical attention at a nearby health camp.

Amidst the ruins, life went on. For some, life was just beginning. Phool Maya Tamang gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the Lions camp. Understanding this precious gift of life, the Lions helped Phool and her baby move to a sturdy shelter where they could safely await a more permanent home.

Shambhu Bahadur Bhandari, 76, [pictured above] had watched helicopters fly over his village, but none came to help. The local Lions club was the first to offer any assistance to his village. He approached the Lions with tears in his eyes, a bag of food in one hand and blanket and tent in the other. He hugged the Lions and expressed his gratitude that his two young grandchildren could eat while he continued searching for food and shelter.

Lions also established health camps, donated medicine to area hospitals and helped with sanitation efforts. They are working closely with the government on plans for reconstruction, which currently include building 1,000 houses and 50 schools, all of which are now required to be resistant to an earthquake.

In total, LCIF mobilized more than US$5 million for both immediate relief needs and long-term reconstruction efforts. The Lions of Nepal, alongside LCIF, are committed to rebuilding the country and will continue working until the job is done.

This article, coauthored by International Director Sanjay Khetan, originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of LION Magazine.

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