In November 2015, the Special Olympics–Lions Clubs International “Mission: Inclusion” partnership platform witnessed an historical moment in Lilongwe, Malawi. As part of a District 412 celebration, an official ceremony was held to deliver a co-branded vehicle to be used by Special Olympics and the Lions Clubs of Malawi to support outreach and services for Special Olympics athletes throughout the country. The vehicle serves as a visual reminder of the growing partnership between Special Olympics and the Lions Clubs of Malawi.
As the global community celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2015, the vehicle also serves as an example of the commitment of both groups to expand their service reach for one of the most isolated populations in the world today – children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“The vast majority of our country is rural,” said Peter Mazunda, Chairman of Special Olympics Malawi. “In order for us to reach many of our athletes, we must traverse many kilometers into the interior of the country, sometimes in very isolated communities.”
In support of the partnership in Malawi, Lions Clubs International mobilized interested Clubs to contribute to the purchase of the vehicle.
“When the idea was shared with me, I knew the impact it would have,” said Peter. “The ability for Special Olympics Malawi, and the Lions Clubs, to effectively transport technical sports equipment, health supplies and equipment, and more into the interior of the country represented a significant innovation for our program, and through this, a strong impact on our athletes.”
The vehicle was made possible by many leaders from the Lions Clubs International global community, connecting Clubs from throughout the world in a common purpose for individuals with intellectual disabilities across Malawi.
Special thanks go to:
Special Olympics Malawi and the Lions of District 412 have shared a vibrant national partnership since 2013, formalized under then District Governor Clement Ndala. The two groups continue to collaborate closely on exciting partnership programs such as Opening Eyes vision screenings, Unified Sports inclusive sports programming, family health education seminars, athlete leadership initiatives, and much more.
“We are committed to using the International Day of Disability as a key date to promote our work, and moreover, to promote the need for more partnership to affect change for our athletes,” said Peter Mazunda. “The vehicle is a perfect example of how the Lions Clubs, both near and far, have answered the call of our athletes, and we are indeed excited to put this vehicle into motion!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post by David Evangelista, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics International.
On Friday, November 27, 2015, Lion Nigel Jeny from Sydney, Australia, received a telephone call asking if he would be able to stop by the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care–ANZ office in Ultimo, New South Wales (NSW) for a few minutes.
Nigel, a local Lions club member for nearly 40 years and current member of the global Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Board of Trustees, is used to making stops to local Lions club conferences, service projects or meetings with government. But this one was different.
“I really didn’t know if this would be the normal meet-and-greet or presentation. But when I arrived, their Area Vice President for all of Asia Pacific region, Jorge Pinedo, and a team of local employees welcomed me to accept a very generous donation to our joint Sight for Kids program,” said Nigel. Their ‘presentation’ was a check presented for AU$13,300 (nearly US$10,000)!
Those funds will go a long, long way – literally. The JJVC-ANZ team has focused most of its support on the Sight for Kids Kolkata program working in greater West Bengal, India. Since that site’s launch in 2005, it has provided 1.22 million Bengali children with free eye health education and vision screening and professional eye exams and treatment, as needed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that URE is the leading cause of visual impairment in school-aged children (5–15 years old) as well. Half of all cases of refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism) in the world remain undetected and untreated. URE in children is most common at critical stages of adolescence, where poor visual acuity can impede cognition, ability to learn and fully participate and perform in educational as well as social settings.
This is why LCIF and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Companies (JJVCC) have provided eye health education and eye care access to millions of children since 2002 through Sight for Kids. The innovative school based program mobilizes volunteers to provide eye health education, high quality vision screenings for low income children to access professional eye care and treatment, including eyeglasses. Since 2002, more than 22 million children have been reached through Sight for Kids.
“As Lions, we’re very used to getting out in the community, raising funds and awareness and providing service to sight. But this particular and very generous donation really moved me. I was completely blown away to get to meet these local professionals and hear about their fantastic local fundraising efforts for our Sight for Kids program,” said Nigel. “It really demonstrates the values and the quality of our partnership – that our joint efforts span many continents, countries and kilometers to help overcome local barriers to healthy sight.”
For more than three years, the JJVC-ANZ team and their J&J colleagues have worked as “Sight for Kids Champions,” raising funds through run/walks, bake sales, office sausage sizzles, wine tastings, World Sight Day awareness days and more to help ensure that the Sight for Kids program can provide can give more children access to professional eye care.
“This team really understands the power of volunteers and giving back, and how important giving the gift of sight is to young students around the world,” explained Nigel. The funds the JJVC-ANZ team have raised will help to deliver Sight for Kids eye health education, screening and access to professional eye care thousands of kilometers away.
“When you think about the holiday season, it is gestures like this from our Johnson & Johnson corporate partner and their associates that really remind you of how many wonderful, caring people and companies there are out there, ready and willing to do what they can to impact lives young,” said Nigel.
In 2015, the JJVC-ANZ team and their colleagues and friends doubled their prior years’ cumulative “Sight for Kids Champion” results. From Nigel, the LCIF Board of Trustees and Lions clubs around the world — way to go, JJVC-ANZ!
Pictured above: On behalf of the JJVC-ANZ team, a check for AU$13,300 from employee raised funds is presented to LCIF Board Member Nigel Jeny to support the 2015-16 Sight for Kids program. From L to R: Paul Griebel (JJVC-ANZ General Manager), Nigel Jeny of LCIF, Despina Biniares (JJVC Business Support), and Jorge Pinedo (JJVC Asia Pacific Area Vice President).
During the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) awarded 530 grants totaling more than US$52.5 million. Every one of those grants is made possible through the generous donations of Lions like you. Thank you for your generosity!
As you kick off your holiday shopping season, please think of LCIF. When you shop online for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday – or any day of year – remember that LCIF participates in AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to LCIF.
During next month’s Relieving the Hunger Centennial Service Challenge, consider organizing a school program that provides children with the food and nutrition needed to focus in the classroom.
The above video from the Lions Quarterly archives highlights three Lions clubs around the world that work with local schools to feed children. Lions in Canada provide healthy snacks for kids while in the classroom; Lions in the Philippines provide meals and teach students and parents about the importance of good nutrition; Lions in the U.S. organize a backpack program that sends children home with healthy foods for the weekend.
Join Lions everywhere as we work to benefit 25 million people through hunger projects by 2018. Share your Centennial project photos on social media with the hashtag #LIONS100, and don’t forget to report your activities using MyLCI.
Today’s guest post is by Lion Ron Robbins of the Chapel Hill Lions Club. Read our Contributor Guidelines to learn how you share your story on the Lions Blog.
One of the main goals of all Lions clubs is to serve the needs of our community, and the Indianapolis Chapel Hill Lions take this very seriously. We are proud to report that the Chapel Lions Club has provided over $17,000 in assistance in the last year to Wayne Township families in need. More than 100 people were touched by this ongoing program.
According to Lion Jim Halsted, “The people in need find us mostly through word of mouth. All of the school nurses in Wayne Township have my name and contact me when help is needed.”
For example, one of my favorite stories is about a woman who was at a food pantry for the first time and started crying. Somebody there asked her what was wrong and gave her my name, assuring her, “He will take care of you.”
I got a call from another woman who told me that her mother had just passed away and she needed some help. When the family was going through her things, she found my name in some papers. She recalled that I had helped her family when she was a young girl. When I picked her up to take her shopping, she looked at me and said, “Yes – I remember you.”
Other words of thanks from local families to the Lions:
Thank you to all Lions who serve their communities every day. You are touching lives and doing something that really matters. We Serve!
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