Today’s guest blog post is from the Toronto Cathay Lions Club in Canada. Less than a year ago, PDG Raija Rosenthal received a chance to improve eyesight and asked the Toronto Cathay Lions to take on that challenge –to make an impact, not only in their local community, but in the lives of many living in Uganda. Follow the Toronto Cathay Lions on Facebook for more information about this project.
A chance encounter on an escalator at the Lions Clubs International Convention in Toronto, Canada last summer has brought the chance to improve eyesight of 3,000 people in Uganda.
While stuck briefly in a crowd, PDG Lion Raija Rosenthal asked Lion Dr. Charles B.R. Ibingira, a Uganda delegate, “How can we help?”
Canadian Lions collect thousands of pairs of used eyeglasses today which are cleaned, repaired and shipped from Quebec to third world countries, but the Toronto Cathay Lions Club went a step further by purchasing 3,000 new reading glasses and will pay for their shipment to Uganda. Providing specified magnification for thousands of sufferers will help make the distribution quicker and more efficient.
The Kampala Central Lions Club’s president has responded with gratitude to the Toronto Cathay club, calling its members, “Knights of the Blind.” He is hopeful the glasses will arrive in time for distribution at the two upcoming camps to aid many of Uganda’s sight impaired.
The Toronto Cathay Lions will be holding a Press Conference on Thursday, January 29th in Toronto, Canada at the Ugandan Consulate to announce the purchase of the new glasses and their benefit to those in Uganda.
A Special Olympics athlete from Poland, 17-year-old Tomasz Banas had never had his eyes checked. Like many intellectually disabled people, he was living with the added difficulty of poor eyesight due to not receiving proper eye care. Among Special Olympics athletes, 68 percent have not had an eye examination in three years, 37 percent are in need of eyeglasses and 18 percent wear clinically incorrect eyeglasses.
Fortunately, the Lions Clubs International-Special Olympics Opening Eyes program works with the Special Olympics to conduct vision screenings, fit glasses and refer urgent needs to eye specialists. At Banas’ games, Lions helped to screen 900 athletes and gave free glasses to 288 athletes. Lions are crucial to Opening Eyes’ success: more than 15,000 Lions have volunteered in the program. Volunteer optometrists/ophthalmologists, optometry students, opticians and optical center employees work alongside the Lions volunteers, providing diagnosis and referrals, and teaching the athletes how to better care for their eyes.
Opening Eyes is celebrating 10 years of the Lions/Special Olympics joint partnership. Since the program began, LCIF has contributed a total of US$13.39 million in funding, and more than 99,000 athletes have received prescription eyewear.
When Banas arrived at the September 2010 Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia Regional Games in Warsaw to compete in badminton, he was excited. But, Banas was unaware that getting his vision screened might be the most remarkable thing to happen to him at the games. Banas became the 200,000th athlete to receive vision screening by Opening Eyes, and he did need glasses. Banas’ new glasses helped him score gold in doubles badminton and silver in singles badminton.
From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives
During a recent SightFirst Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting, two grants were approved to fund vision-related projects in the United States:
A US$200,000 grant was awarded to the Lions of Illinois, District 1-J, to upgrade the VNA/Spectrios Eye Care Clinic in Aurora. It is estimated that 2,000 low-income patients will benefit from this project over the next three years. To help reach that target, Lions of District 1-J will organize a speakers’ bureau that will present educational programs on the basics of eye care, the importance of yearly eye exams, and the services available at the VNA/Spectrios Eye Care Clinic.
A US$319,500 grant was awarded to the Little Rock Founder’s Lions Club to assist the World Services for the Blind, a state-licensed and nationally accredited blind and low vision service organization in Arkansas. This project will empower approximately 224 blind and visually impaired adults to achieve sustainable independence through life skills, career training and community access over the next two years.
Remember, SightFirst grant applications are due May 8, 2015, for review by the SAC in August 2015.
The Mersin Kilikya Lions Club in Turkey donated writing utensils, stationary and other school supplies, as well as scarves and shoes to the students at a local Primary School. They even provided a preschool classroom with various toys, tablets and an overhead projector. Follow the Mersin Kilikya Lions on Facebook to learn more about how the are making an impact in their community!
Did you participate in a similar youth project? We want to know what your club has organized for the Centennial Service Challenge. Share your story with us!
Joni and I had a blast in Venezuela last week. Not only were we able to celebrate Melvin Jones’ birthday with Leos and Special Olympic athletes, but we were able to see how dedicated the Lions in Venezuela are to making an impact on their communities. We spent our time attending the FOLAC Forum, getting to visit the mayor and join in a parade, as well as dedicating a library and partaking in a tree planting project. It’s always a great time when the Lions get together!
Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.
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