Lions work tirelessly to bring dignity to the world’s underserved populations. It’s in their nature. So when Lions in District 113-M in Austria learned that children in Rio Blanco—a town in Guatemala’s Joyabaj municipality—were attending school in desperate conditions, they pounced on the opportunity to serve.
In 2011, the building constructed to house Rio Blanco’s elementary school was intended to be temporary. With little ventilation, the ramshackle structure of wooden planks and corrugated metal struggled to accommodate its 100 students, and offered only one toilet for students and staff to share. Three years later, despite government promises to construct a new building, the shack was still in use.
Dr. Franz Mostegel, district governor of 113-M, knew something had to be done. Working with clubs in his district and the local Guatemala Quiche Lions Club, Mostegal secured a US$51,000 Standard Grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) for construction of a new school building.
The new school includes four classrooms, a sports area, functioning restrooms and a storage room. Situated on land donated to the municipality of Joyabaj, the people Rio Blanco own the school.
To cover remaining costs, the Austrian Lions ran a successful fundraising campaign, raising more than US$110,000, far exceeding their own expectations. With the necessary funds in place, construction began in November, 2014. Despite inclement weather and the opportunity to earn higher wages elsewhere, many locals pitched in to ensure the building was finished as quickly as possible.
Six months later to the day, with construction completed, Austrian Lions arrived in Guatemala to meet with local Lions, leaders and schoolchildren for the school’s opening ceremony.
“I appreciate the generosity of Lions for financing that primary school for our students here in Rio Blanco. The Lions make education possible, and education means hope for a future. We are very proud and thankful,” said Mayor of Joyabaj, Sr. Florencio Carrascosa during the ceremony.
Excess funds raised by the Lions that weren’t used for construction were put into a scholarship fund to help the school’s top graduates attend secondary school in the provincial capital.
For Margarita Escobedo, a teacher in Rio Blanco, the new school means the fulfillment of a dream for her students. “It’s like a dream. Now I can teach students in a proper classroom with chairs and desks. And what a wonderful sports field outside. I am so thankful.”
The need for education is great, especially in rural areas of Guatemala. But through their service and generosity, Lions have once again proven that where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.
For more information on Standard grants and to find out how your Lions club can apply, please visit www.lcif.org.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of LION Magazine.
During the August 2015 SightFirst Advisory Comittee (SAC) meeting, 13 grants were approved for vision projects in South Asia, totaling US$3,898,501.
Cameroon, District 403- B1
A grant of US$1,148,905 was awarded to the Lions of Cameroon and the Organisation pour la Prévention de la Cécité (OPC, a French NGO working in blindness prevention in French-speaking Africa) to support a pilot comprehensive eye care project in the Center and Littoral regions of Cameroon. The grant will make possible human resource training, infrastructure upgrades, and service delivery. It is estimated that 7.5 million people will benefit from this project.
Chad, District 403-B1
A grant of US$499,596 was awarded to the Lions of Chad and OPC to support Chad’s Trachoma Control Program. Funding will make possible training for over 2,000 health personnel and the operation of 9,458 trichiasis patients.
Ethiopia, District 411-A
A grant of US$2,000,000 was awarded to the Lions of Ethiopia and The Carter Center to assist the Amhara Regional Health Bureau to implement full trachoma strategies. Major targets include the operation of 84,261 trichiasis patients, the distribution of 19.2 million doses of Zithromax™ and Tetracycline ointment, providing community education on environmental change and facial cleanliness to 3,500 villages and 7,800 schools, and the construction of 350,000 latrines.
Ethiopia, District 411-A
A grant of US$250,000 was awarded to the Lions of Ethiopia and The Carter Center to help Ethiopia eliminate river blindness. Funding will make possible the distribution of 584,000 annual and 14.5 million semi-annual Mectizan™ treatments as well as training for thousands of community drug distributors.
Ethiopia, District 411-A
A grant of US$25,000 was awarded to the Lions of Ethiopia to support their advocacy work in the trachoma and river blindness programs. Funding will enable the Lions to conduct community education through media publicity as well as organize high level advocacy meetings with community and administrative leadership to strengthen support to the programs.
Ghana, Multiple District 105
A US$171,110 supplemental grant was awarded to Multiple District 105 to help complete work on the Korle Bu Ophthalmic Surgical Training and Treatment Centre, Accra, Ghana. The project is a joint effort between the Lions of Multiple District 105 and Moorfields Eye Hospital Trust. When completed, the center will provide comprehensive eye care services as well as modular continuing education courses for ophthalmologists and other eye care workers from throughout West and Central Africa.
Kenya, District 411-A
A grant of US$288,585 was awarded to the Lions of Sabatia to support the establishment of a pediatric eye unit at Sabatia Lions Eye Hospital. It is estimated that at least 3,000 children will benefit directly from this project.
Madagascar, District 403-B2
A grant of US$865,717 was awarded to the Lions of Madagascar to support comprehensive eye care services in the country. It is estimated over 14,000 people will benefit directly from this project.
Mali, District 403-A1
A grant of US$100,000 will help the Lions of Mali and The Carter Center to assist Mali’s efforts to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. The elimination target in Mali is 2017. The project will support 1,400 trichiasis surgeries and training for trichiasis surgeons and community volunteers.
Mali, District 403-A1
A grant of US$379,958 was awarded to the Lions of Mali and OPC to support eye care system development in the region of Ségou. The grant will enable human resource training, infrastructure upgrade, and service delivery. It is estimated that 2.3 million people will benefit directly from this project.
Niger, District 403-A1
A grant of US$150,000 was awarded to the Lions of Niger and The Carter Center to assist Niger’s efforts to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. The project will support 5,302 trichiasis surgeries and training for trichiasis surgeons and community volunteers.
Uganda, District 411-B
A grant of US$175,000 was awarded to the Lions of Uganda and The Carter Center to help Uganda eliminate river blindness. Funding will make available 2.2 million treatments and the training of thousands of Community Drug Distributors.
Uganda, District 411-B
A grant of US$25,000 was awarded to the Lions of Uganda to support their advocacy work in the river blindness program. Funding will enable the Lions to conduct community education through media publicity as well as organize high level advocacy meetings with community and political leadership to strengthen support to the program. Lions are also responsible for underwriting half of the costs for each surgery, and will be involved in identifying areas targeted for outreach.
Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) are committed to saving sight around the world.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day – an opportunity to raise awareness about diabetes and help people around the world lead healthier, happier lives. Lions everywhere are encouraged to raise awareness throughout the entire month of November. Project planning tools and resources are available through the LCI website.
Project ideas include:
Have you ever wondered how Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) can help Lions change lives in your community? Experience the impact of LCIF at this year’s Europa Forum, October 9-11, in Augsburg, Germany. The theme for this year’s forum is “Sympathy and Friendship.” LCIF will have representatives on hand who can answer questions regarding grant programs, the application process, and donations, as well as provide informational materials. Be sure to ask about the Lions Measles Initiative!
This year, there are several informational sessions regarding LCIF:
Forums provide for an exchange of information and ideas surrounding service activities and Lions’ projects while promoting the principles and objectives of Lions Clubs International and LCIF. All Lions in the constitutional area in which the forum is held are invited to participate.
You can read about LCIF’s activities at the OSEAL Forum in the upcoming weeks.
The above quote is from Helen Keller’s speech to Lions at the 1925 International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. Lions accepted and embraced her challenge, dedicating the past 100 years to serving people with visual impairments.
Our newest video in the Lions Centennial Celebration series, “Knights of the Blind,” takes a look back at Lions’ sight projects and programs. See how Lions became Knights of the Blind, and how Lions continue to serve those in need all around the world.
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