We Serve is the Lions Clubs’ motto, and the truth behind those words can be seen whenever Lions embark on a humanitarian mission to help those in need.
One of the Lions’ “vision missions” was held in Ensenada, Mexico, in 2009. Eighty miles south of San Diego, California, Ensenada is a tourist destination and a cruise ship port, but many of the locals have never had an eye exam. Lions clubs in the United States and Mexico teamed up to change that.
“Missions are rewarding because it’s hands-on service,” said Bill Iannacone of the Walnut Creek Host Lions Club of California. About 700,000 pairs of eyeglasses were collected in California, then shipped across the border, where Ensenada Lions received them, set up a location for the mission event and publicized it locally.
Over the course of two days, more than 800 locals who couldn’t afford health care received eye exams, free eyeglasses and even eye drops to treat allergies and conjunctivitis from four doctors, six technicians and dozens of Lions.
Elena Galindo and her young son both received glasses. “Not only will this help my family financially, but I was able to see the smile on my son’s face, and he was able to see better,” she said.
Missions around the world offer the chance for clubs in neighboring countries to work together. Club members travel together, work together and meet new friends. As Sue Topf of the Clermont Lions Club in Indianapolis, Indiana, said, “These mission change your life. Last trip we fit a 100-year-old man with his first pair of glasses. He had walked down from the mountain in his Sunday best.”
Vision missions are a major part of the Lions’ humanitarian work, but that’s only one way of serving. The year 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of an annual medical, dental and ophthalmic mission jointly organized by Lions clubs in Japan and the Philippines, providing teeth cleaning, information on oral hygiene, and vision and medical screenings to more than 1,000 people in the Philippines. Other clubs team up for one-time missions, such as the Roma Castel Sant’Angelo Lions Club of Italy, which helped build a well and provided hygiene training to a village in Benin, Africa; and the Mijas Lions Club of Spain, which equipped two Bolivian schools with furniture and school supplies.
“I get more out of it than I give,” said Jim Ashcraft of the San Diego Missions Lions Club, who was on hand in Ensenada. That feeling of service shows that these gestures, both large and small, can have a big impact—and not just for the recipients.
On August 12, 2016, torrential rain began to fall in the southern United States. The state of Louisiana quickly succumbed to record floods as more than 10 rivers exceeded their banks. Weeks after the initial storms, nearly 10,000 people are still living in shelters and more than 50,000 homes have been flooded.
Less than two weeks later, in the early morning hours of August 24, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattled central Italy. Rescue efforts are underway. Search teams are using cranes and dogs to pull victims from the rubble. Entire towns have been demolished and the death toll continues to climb.
Our hearts are heavy as we try to understand the immense human suffering these events have caused. In keeping with our mission, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded US$100,000 Major Catastrophe grants to Louisiana and Italy. The first of what will likely be several grants, these will assist Lions in those regions with meeting both immediate and long-term needs. Lions in the affected areas are focused now on distributing food, water, clothing and medical supplies and are assessing ways to provide additional assistance in the coming weeks and months.
With the generous and ongoing support of Lions, LCIF is able to respond quickly to urgent needs in the wake of natural disasters. Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster relief fund so we can continue to be a beacon of light in some of the darkest hours.
Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Dear Lions of Italy,
I was deeply saddened to hear the news of the devastating earthquake that struck the central mountainous region of your homeland early Wednesday morning, leaving many families mourning the loss of loved ones, and the loss of their homes.
The executive officers, the Board of Directors, and Lions around the world want you to know the people of Italy are in our thoughts and in our prayers as you face this catastrophe, and we send our deepest condolences.
We also want you to know that we are mobilizing to provide a major catastrophe grant of US$100,000 for immediate disaster relief. We are doing everything we can to provide you with as much immediate assistance as possible.
Over the past several years, the Lions family around the world has faced many natural disasters. Together, as a family, we have provided relief when and where needed. True to our centennial motto “Where There’s A Need, There’s A Lion,” we stand with the Lions and the people of Italy as you overcome this tragedy.
Chancellor Bob Corlew
Lions International President
On August 12, 2016, a dangerous flash flood swept across Louisiana, USA. Relentless rains have left thousands of people without electricity in hot and humid conditions. Nearly 30,000 people had to be rescued by the National Guard, search & rescue teams, and neighbors with boats.
Lions of Districts 8 N and 8 O are assessing the changing needs on the ground as they work to finalize their Emergency grant requests. Many of the impacted areas were previously damaged by Hurricane Katrina, though to a lesser extent. The damage is widespread and the Lions are collaborating to maximize local resources while they prepare their Emergency Grant applications.
District 8 N
District 8 O
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) will continue to monitor the situation and offer the necessary guidance to ensure that all Emergency grant requests are promptly processed.
Please consider making a gift to LCIF’s disaster fund. Remember, these donations are MJF-eligible and will go a long way in providing help and hope to those who need it most.
Lions AIM (Aid in Meeting) is an aid and cultural exchange program for members of student clubs and other young members of Lions Norway. AIM is working with several agencies and projects in Uganda and Zambia, where an annual student delegation offers a one-month field work program in June and July as a part of the project. Today’s blog post is by Marie Lytomt Norum of Lions Club Trondheim Student, who shares the students’ experiences:
This summer, Aid in Meeting (AIM) sent a delegation of eight Norwegian students to work in Zambia for four weeks. AIM is an aid- and cultural programme for the members of the student clubs of Lions Clubs International.
During our stay in Zambia, we met the people behind the organisations we wanted to cooperate with. Our aim has been to contribute to develop their projects in a sustainable way.
Our head project this year was to build a security fence around the school Shine Zambia. The school offers an intensive two-year-long programme for kids who have not been able to attend public school because of difficulties at home. After the pupils have passed this programme, they are given the opportunity to start 7th grade at junior high school. The school also offer the pupils one portion of lunch every day, which may be to only daily meal for many of the children. Their goal is to become economically independent, but vandalism and theft have been big obstacles. The school used to have their own garden and water pump, but they were both either destroyed or stolen. Hopefully, the school will be able to reach their goal of becoming sustainable when the security fence is finished.
The second project during our stay was to complete the construction of the treatment room for an organisation called “Apters.” This is a team of physically challenged people creating costume made chairs from recycled paper and cardboard for children with disabilities. The organisation gives the children an easier life, and they are also contributing to the society by reducing the stigmatization of the physically challenged.
The third project was at the orphanage “Action for Children.” The organisation was founded by Carol McBrady from the US, who gives street children a second chance. Carol’s desire is that these children are going to be a part of the family at the children’s centre, and to make them feel useful and appreciated in the local community. During our stay we arranged lessons about sexual health, and we also spent time playing games and helping them with their homework.
We believe that the four weeks we spent working in Zambia has been some of the most rewarding weeks of our lives. We are thankful to be given the opportunity to be able to help these organisations. In Zambia, we have met some truly inspiring people who makes sacrifices of their own to make the lives of children with different difficulties better.
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