Syria refugees

Lions Respond to Refugee Crisis

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Dear Lions,

An international refugee crisis is unfolding before our eyes, as hundreds of thousands of people from Syria and parts of Iraq flee violence in their homeland, seeking safety in Europe. Many European nations have agreed to take in refugees, but some governments are not equipped to handle the massive influx of people – most carrying with them all their worldly goods in one or two suitcases.

Lions – I chose as my presidential theme “Dignity. Harmony. Humanity.” The current refugee crisis is a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions. Now is the time to act.

I challenge Lions in all countries that have taken in refugees to contact your local and federal government to offer your assistance. Your government can tell you where the need is, and how best to help. I also challenge Lions in other nations to contact Lions in the countries hosting refugees. There may be opportunities to provide support.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded grants for Lions-led relief efforts in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.  Please consider making a donation today so that LCIF and Lions can continue providing humanitarian aid and promoting harmony around the world.

Donate to LCIF


Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada


Photo Credit: Kyodo via AP Images

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LCIF logo

Visit LCIF at the Upcoming USA/Canada Forum

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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 USA/Canada Forum, September 17-19, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. 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:

  • On Friday, September 18, learn about Lions Quest, LCIF’s social and emotional learning program for students, 10 a.m.
  • Later that day, at 2 p.m., be sure to attend the “LCIF Updates” session.
  • Also on Friday, September 18, there will be a session on “How to Apply for an LCIF Grant” at 3:30 p.m.

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.

forumrevisedYou can read about LCIF’s activities at the Europa Forum in the upcoming weeks.g weeks. 

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Swaziland glasses

SightFirst Funding for Research

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With funds raised through Campaign SightFirst II, SightFirst is able to support new project areas aimed at providing “vision for all.” These include vision rehabilitation and education for those who are blind or have low vision, as well as vision research initiatives. While research is different from the traditional SightFirst strategies of service delivery and capacity building, it has the potential to improve these core program activities and enhance blindness prevention efforts worldwide.

During a recent SightFirst Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting, five grants were approved for research projects, totaling US$436,667:

Sightsavers Cameroon
“Yaounde Urban Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness with Diabetic Retinopathy Module”

Brien Holden Vision Institute
“Rapid Assessment of Refractive Error in Bogota, Colombia”

Brien Holden Vision Institute
“Survey to Determine Impact of Near Vision Correction Amongst Textile Factory Workers in KwaZulu, South Africa”SightFirst logo

Joslin Diabetes Center
“Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness with Diabetic Retinopathy Module in Region 3, Philippines”

University of Hyderabad
“Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in the Maldives and Timor Leste”

SightFirst funds operational and evaluative public health research projects. Projects must relate to improving SightFirst programs by identifying needs and assessing program strategies, especially related to equity, capacity building and sustainability in the delivery of eye care. Expanding the monitoring and evaluation budgets of existing SightFirst projects are also considered.

For more information, contact

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Children's Dignity Week

Dignity and Joy to Children in Chicago

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The birthday celebration of a homeless child can often be disappointing. The Chicago Windy City Lions Club wanted to bring dignity and joy to 18 children living at the San Jose Obrero Mission by throwing them a birthday celebration during Children’s Dignity Week.

The Lions started off the birthday party by reading aloud a story called “Hooray for You! A Celebration of You-ness” by Marianne Richardson to encourage self-esteem and celebrate each child’s uniqueness. Each child received a copy of the book and a $15 Target gift card — giving the children the dignity of purchasing power, as the majority of their clothing and toys have been hand-me-downs or donations. Two-thirds of the 16 million children living in poverty in the U.S. do not own books, so the book they received at the event was most likely the first they have ever owned. Other activities included playing games, dancing and art projects.

Photo Credit: Carole Burke-Hallberg

Photo Credit: Carole Burke-Hallberg

The entire experience was very moving for the Lions, children and parents alike. The families were incredibly gracious and appreciative of the Lions’ hard work and dedication to bringing joy to their children’s lives.

Partnering with the Community

Working with local organizations can help make a bigger impact in your community. As you plan your Lions projects and Centennial Service Challenge events, contact organizations near you to see how you can work together.

The Chicago Windy City Lions worked with the San Jose Obrero Mission, which services families, women and men as they strive to secure permanent housing and improve their lives for the long-term.  They provide transitional housing for 120 days (including food, clothing and case management) to get residents back on their feet. The Lions also partnered with a professional DJ and face painter, who each donated their services, and a local bookstore that offered the gifted books at a discounted price.

For more photos of the event, visit the Chicago Windy City Lions Facebook page.


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A trained facilitator reads to children in Aswan, Egypt.

Fostering Literacy Among Children in Egypt

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Ancient Egyptians knew that writing and literacy were essential to society. Cultures that came much later pay tribute to their progress in written language: the word “paper” derives from the Egyptian word “papyrus.” But reading skills in the average Egyptian home today are substandard. Nearly nine in 10 Egyptian parents read only schoolbooks with their children, according to the Information and Decision Support Center in Egypt. Parents lack confidence in their own reading skills or simply do not appreciate the importance of critical reading to the development of language skills.

The Lions of Egypt, in partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Om Habibeh Foundation (OHF), are working to foster literacy in children in Aswan. Combining OHF’s academic expertise with the financial support of a US$35,000 Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Standard grant, local Lions launched a “Reading for Children” project. The goal is to increase children’s access to books, improve parents’ capacity to support their children’s learning, strengthen interactions between children and parents and reinforce primary literacy skills.

Once local facilitators were trained, the process of equipping libraries within those community-based organizations began. To increase children’s access to books, OHF purchased a variety of books and interactive games. These organizations now host an extensive collection of books and early childhood development materials. OHF also provided child-accessible bookshelves and an assortment of arts and crafts supplies.

Facilitators also conducted home visits that provided mothers with a safe place to engage their children and take an active role in their children’s education. Facilitators explained the importance of reading to children and gave creative suggestions on using daily activities to enrich children’s language development.

OHF also hosted several reading camps during school breaks. Nearly 280 children participated, taking part in storytelling and educational activities. At the end of each camp, the children and facilitators marched through the streets, holding signs and distributing flyers to promote the importance of literacy. These marches contributed to a sense of community and increased awareness of the project.

In one year, the Reading for Children project positively impacted more than 900 mothers and more than 2,500 children throughout Aswan. The participating community-based organizations became safe, attractive spaces for mothers to interact with their children. The reading and play sessions not only increased language development for the participating children but also expanded mothers’ ability to participate in that development. The local Lions and their partners are making great progress fostering literacy in Egypt.

This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of LION Magazine.

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