Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is a leader in providing support for preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight for people around the world. Our sight programs include developing and improving eye care systems, providing sight-restoring surgeries and treatments, and distributing medications to those most at-risk for eye diseases.
Since 1990, LCIF’s SightFirst program has played a key role in reducing global blindness. With a focus on building comprehensive and sustainable eye care systems, SightFirst provides funding for projects that deliver eye care services, build or strengthen eye care facilities, train professionals and build awareness about eye health in underserved communities.
In January 2000, the Belize City Lions Club received a US$260,000 SightFirst grant to eliminate the cataract backlog in Belize within five years and establish the country’s first specialized public eye care center. This was a collaborative effort with the Belize Council for the Visually Impaired (BCVI), the Ministry of Health, PAHO, CBM, and Sight Savers International. The grant funded the completion and furnishing of the eye clinic’s hostel, purchased ophthalmic equipment and provided training for eye care professionals. Ultimately, the successful project more than doubled the number of cataract surgeries performed each year, provided specialized diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma treatment, and offered patients and families an affordable place to stay while receiving care away from home.
In August 2013, the Lions of Belize received a US$192,326 SightFirst grant for the detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy throughout Belize. The funds equipped the National Eye Clinic and five satellite clinics, in partnership with BCVI. Five optometrists, two nurses, and four assistants were trained on equipment use, identification, and referral of patients with diabetic retinopathy. One ophthalmologist was trained on laser surgery, enabling the provision of diabetic retinopathy laser treatment year round. The funds also allowed for the development of a diabetic retinopathy public awareness campaign, in partnership with the Ministry of Health’s Community Health Workers. Since 2013, 1,551 patients have been screened and 362 have received laser treatment.
Congratulations, BCVI, on 35 years of fulfilling your mission to prevent and cure blindness, restore sight, and to rehabilitate and educate people who are blind to enable them to use their talents and abilities to live independent lives. Here’s to 35 more!
I am honored to serve as Chairperson of your Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). I believe strongly in our Foundation, which is a vital part of Lions’ international service efforts. One of the most touching moments of my life was seeing how Lions joined together with LCIF to provide food, supplies, and opportunities to the refugees struggling in Europe. I am so proud to be a part of this foundation.
LCIF helps Lions improve peoples’ lives around the world, combating vision problems, responding to major catastrophes, providing valuable life skills to youth, and so much more. LCIF helps all Lions serve by providing grant funding for your local and global humanitarian efforts, and Lions help to support LCIF’s mission.
LCIF sets a fundraising goal every year to meet Lions’ humanitarian needs worldwide. While we do not have the final numbers yet for 2015-16, we expect that you Lions donated over US$39 million. What an incredible feat! With your help, we hope to raise just over US$45 million this year so that we may continue serving the world and promoting harmony.
I like to think of the beginning of a new year the start of something great, and I am excited to embark on this journey alongside you Lions, some of the most dedicated and selfless people the world has ever seen. I know that together we will achieve many great accomplishments this year. Thank you for your dedication to our Foundation!
Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Today’s post is by Dianne Corlew, Lion and wife of International President Chancellor Bob Corlew. Be sure to follow Dianne’s Lions Partners in Education Facebook page!
At the District Governors Elect Partners in Service Seminar, I talked about membership and the impact we can make as members. I also expressed that the best way to support our DG partners is to become a Lion! I then offered the opportunity to become members at the DGE Celebration Banquet. Six people responded that they wanted to become members. We had an overwhelming response at the banquet! But I wanted to share with you the stories of the six who contacted me.
Carol’s husband, DG Guy, has been a Lion for 21 years. They have been married for 31 years. Carol has helped with projects and attended various meetings and events. Carol surprised Guy! DG Guy was amazed and pleased to have his wife and number one supporter as his first new member of his DG year.
When DG Guy and Lion Carol returned from the International Convention and told their daughter, Alyssa (22 years old), that Carol has become a Lion, the first thing out of her mouth was “And when do I get to become a Lion?” Alyssa is now a Lion as well as their 25 year old son, Kyle.
I first meet Carlota and her husband, Richardo, two years ago when we visited Panama. We immediately formed a friendship. She has a family strongly involved in Lions. Their daughter is a Lion. Their grandson is also involved. When we talked to their grandson he told us he wants to be a Lions Clubs International District Governor someday. What a great aspiration for a young man! Carlota was like so many others I have met. She has a heart of a Lion, works harder than a lot of Lions members, but is not a member. I encouraged her then and again on a later visit to become a Lion. I was so excited and happy when she and Richardo came to get their DGE photos and she told me she was going to join!
Joe Prochaska, Partner in Service of DG Lisa Prochaska, decided to join. They are from Iowa Falls Lions Club. Lisa joined in 2010 and quickly held club offices. Lisa’s club met at noon and Joe could not get away from his job for the meeting. He works 30 minutes away. Bob and I were like that as well, and I shared this at the Partners in Service Seminar. That is why Bob and I belong to different clubs. Just recently Lisa’s club decided to change their meeting times to one at noon and one in the evening. That way they could offer times to accommodate more members. Joe decided now was the time for him to join. What a great way to support a woman in a leadership position! And we are so glad to have Joe as a member of Lions Clubs International!
Debbie McKnight, a Lioness, decided to join and support her husband, DG Kerry McKnight. Debbie has been a member of the New Freedom Lioness Club for 16 years. As a Lioness she has been involved in service for years. I absolutely love to see what I call “Lioness Lions”! She is now a member of both clubs. DG Kerry had encouraged Debbie to join as an example for other spouses. Now DG Kerry and Debbie plan to work together with a goal to increase women membership in the district. I am sure they will accomplish this goal!
Rosemarie Maythem, spouse of DG Lance Maytham, decided to join also. They are from the Bredasdorp Lions Club, the southernmost club in Africa! Bredasorp is a grain and sheep farming community. Lance is an accountant. Rosemarie is retired from a dried flower export company.
Lance became a Lion in 1980. Ladies were not permitted to join then. When Lions clubs opened up to women, Lance’s club did not immediately accept ladies as members. Rosemarie has worked side by side with Lance for years. Rosemarie will continue to work side by side with Lance but she is now his first new member of his District Governor year! Rosemarie, we are so glad to have you as a member!
We met DGE Andy Port last year in Massachusetts. He has the kindest, gentlest and most caring spirit. His wife, Amy, is a volunteer in her church and her community. She was president of the town’s food pantry, a deacon in their church, and served the community of Holliston for 21 years in various service roles. She is the sweetest lady. I was surprised to find out she was not a Lion. Well, she is now! DG Andy said his year is off to a great start. I saw DG Andy later at the convention and he said his District Governor year was off to a great start because he had as his first new member – the most giving, caring person in the world.
At the 30th Annual Lions Day with the United Nations in 2008, Lions Clubs International took its longstanding relationship with the U.N. to a new level by formally agreeing to help meet the world’s most critical humanitarian needs.
During the 20th century, people had made huge progress in science, education, medicine and human rights. But at the start of the new millennium, many developing countries found their poorest citizens still struggling to obtain food and water. Women and children often suffered the most from a lack of basic necessities, education and healthcare.
In 2000, world leaders came together at U.N. headquarters in New York and committed to reducing this disparity by 2015 through eight Millennium Development Goals. The goals were ambitious:
Lions Clubs International has worked with the U.N. since 1947 to promote peace and prosperity, and Lions clubs around the world have been feeding the hungry and helping to fight diseases for decades. When International President Mahendra Amarasuriya sought additional ways for Lions to serve developing countries, he knew where to turn. On March 14, 2008, at U.N. headquarters in New York, President Amarasuriya signed a letter of intent representing LCI’s commitment to help meet the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Lions throughout the world began to focus on the goals. Lions of Sri Lanka collaborated with local health institutions, the ministry of health and UNICEF to help reduce child and maternal mortality rates through health education and training programs. Meanwhile, in Brazil, Lions worked to support education for their nation’s children by spreading the Lions Quest program, which trains teachers to promote positive youth development.
In Kenya, Lions focused on combating HIV/AIDS by establishing the Lions Comprehensive Care HIV/AIDS Clinic for Children to serve infected children and their mothers. Each month, approximately 1,440 children, ages newborn to two years, receive treatment while their mothers receive counseling, education and reproductive health services.
Although many of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals have yet to be met in full, by drawing attention to these eight areas of need, countless people around the world have been helped—often with a smile from a Lions volunteer.
Since its inception in 1990, LCIF’s SightFirst program has played a key role in reducing blindness, especially blindness due to cataract. The programs has provided support for more than 7.84 million sight-restoring cataract surgeries around the world, has upgraded eye care facilities and trained eye care personnel.
Now, SightFirst is highlighted in a new documentary by Seva Foundation. “Open Your Eyes: A Journey from Darkness to Sight” features a couple who receive the gift sight from the Lions Lacoul Eye Hospital in Tansen, Palpa, Nepal.
Check local HBO listings for showtimes in your area.
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