Guatemala has Conquered River Blindness

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Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is a parasitic disease that afflicts the rural poor. It is caused by a worm that is spread from person to person through the bites of Simulium black flies that breed in rapid-flowing rivers and streams. The disease can cause intense itching, eye damage, and irreversible blindness, reducing an individual’s ability to work and learn. Worldwide, an estimated 120 million are at risk of being infected and 270,000 have been blinded by the disease, mostly in Africa. In addition to Africa and Latin America, onchocerciasis also is present in Yemen.

Since 1993, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded more than US$33 million to support the distribution of river blindness medicine, Mectizan®, to approximately 251 million people in 15 African and Latin American countries. SightFirst has worked in close partnership since 1999 with The Carter Center—a leader in the fight to end river blindness.

On September 29, 2106, Guatemala’s minister of health, Dr. Lucrecia Hernandez Mack, announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially verified the elimination of onchocerciasis from Guatemala. Guatemala is now the fourth country in the Americas to be verified free of this disease, after Colombia (2013), Ecuador (2014), and Mexico (2015).

LCIF congratulates the people and government of Guatemala, The Carter Center’s Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), and many devoted Lions on this monumental achievement!


Celebrating New Lions!

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When’s the last time you had a birthday party?

For many of us, after adolescence we no longer celebrate birthdays the way we used to, with cake, balloons and tons of our friends around. PDG Carolyn Dorman thought the lack of celebration was a shame and worked together with other Lions in Multiple District 2 to throw one amazing birthday bash!

As a way to celebrate new members throughout Texas, PDG Dorman and a team of 16 Lions worked together to set up a birthday party for all the new members. The party was hosted at a local hotel and was filled with ice cream, cake, flags, horns and “100” balloons, to celebrate our centennial.

All 300 attendees got to witness a special induction ceremony where International President Bob Corlew inducted his daughter and son-in-law, and saw a special award presented to the longest serving Lion who was at the event!

Everyone had so much fun at the birthday party that they’re planning one for next August!

According to PDG Dorman the event, “was a great success with all the cake and ice cream Lions could eat!”

Consider throwing a party for your members, or celebrating in a different way. Some ideas for Ways to Celebrate can be found on our website. Make sure to share all your stories on social media and use #Lions100.

To hear more about PDG Dorman’s multiple district birthday party, listen to the Marketing Department’s September webinar!


LCIF is Working to Bring Literacy to South Sudan

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) works to address an ever-growing array of humanitarian needs around the world. Those needs vary greatly from country to country, village to village, day to day.

Located in East-Central Africa, South Sudan gained independence in 2011. Twenty years of civil war left the country with essentially no infrastructure. Only a handful of areas have running water, electricity, clinics, schools or paved roads. Half of the population lives below the international poverty line, which is less than US$2 per day. It is not surprising then that one in three South Sudanese men and one in ten South Sudanese women are literate. Very few speak English, which is the official language of South Sudan.

Aweil Women's Leadership Center

The Aweil Women’s Leadership Center is now open!

Research by UNICEF shows a strong positive relationship between a mother’s education and the health of her children. South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate and the lowest female literacy rate in the world. There, girls are more likely to die of pregnancy complications than they are to complete primary
education. One in ten children die before the age of five.

Raising the nation’s literacy rate is imperative to help lift its people out of poverty. Literacy is the foundation of development and economic prosperity, and will enable the people of South Sudan to participate fully in their emerging democracy.

To help increase literacy rates in South Sudan, LCIF awarded a Core 4 grant to Literacy at the Well (LATW). LATW is a 501c3 non-profit organization established in the US and operating in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan, since 2008. Grant funds were used to meet the ever increasing demand for literacy programming in Aweil, the most heavily populated city in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.

The Aweil Women’s Leadership Center is now open! The Center will provide education for over 1,000 women and girls each week and will has begun a legacy of literacy that will improve lives for generations to come. As a post for Literacy at the Well, the center will be used not only to teach reading, writing and English, but to train future Literacy at the Well instructors and also to provide literacy instruction for community groups like police and health workers.

Families that can read are healthier and less vulnerable to oppression, are more likely to succeed and are able to help others in their community.

The women of Aweil helped to lay the foundation bricks for their new center.

The women of Aweil helped to lay the foundation bricks for their new center.

The Blind Welfare Council provides educational opportunities to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities throughout Dahod.

Empowering People with Disabilities in India

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The child of a farming family in Gujarat, India, Jyotsana Nisarta was only 2 years old when she contracted polio. Jyotsana’s mother, already living with her own disabilities, was determined to minimize the effects of the disease on her daughter. Yet even with medical intervention, Jyotsana was left with considerable visual impairment.

Throughout her childhood, Jyotsana excelled in school. Opportunities are often limited for people with disabilities in India, so Jyotsana remained dependent on her family. Determined to work, she enrolled in a primary teachers training course. Jyotsana was disappointed when she was not selected to become a teacher because her test score had fallen just one point short, but she remained positive. That’s when the Blind Welfare Council in Dahod changed her life.

The Lions of District 323-F1 have supported the Blind Welfare Council for more than 10 years. With support from a US$63,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), Lions helped to expand the council’s vocational training center. The council was able to take on more computer trainees and introduced tailoring, carpentry, Braille printing and offset printing programs. About 100 people each year will be trained for respected and well-paying jobs.

Jyotsana enrolled in the council’s computer training course. In only a matter of months, she completed the course and immediately was hired as a computer operator. Happy with her job, she made Rs 2,500 each month (US$36). The skills she learned in her classes at the Council enabled her to further her career, and Jyotsana soon was hired for a government job. She takes photos and thumbprints and issue identification cards to members of her community. Her monthly income has nearly doubled, which enables her to help her family as well as pay her own living expenses.

Together with Lions and LCIF, the Blind Welfare Council is empowering people with mental and physical disabilities throughout Dahod. For information on how your district can make difference in your community, visit

This story originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of LION Magazine.


Engaging Youth: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

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Today’s post is by Aberystwyth Lions Club President and Charter President of the Laoac United Lions Club Benjamin Manluctao, who helped organize a Centennial Service Challenge project aimed toward combating hunger and engaging youth. These children are just some of the 100 million people already benefiting from Lions’ Centennial projects around the world.

Aberystwyth Lions of 105W and the Laoac United Lions in Northern Philippines have shown their commitment to the Lions motto: We Serve. The Project: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body is a month long feeding program to combat hunger. It is also aimed at Engaging the Youth for leadership. Good nutrition, a healthy mind and a healthy body are crucial to the improvement of academic performance of school children, who one day will lead their communities. This project is dedicated to all pupils in the world whose future is our concern.

The program is a result from a conducted Community Needs Assessment, which guided us to carry out this particular service project intended for the most vulnerable and least fortunate members of the community chosen by the teachers and village leaders.

Lions Centennial Feeding Project

The program is a sound investment in the education of the young. There is a connection of good nutrition to improved daily school attendance — when children eat healthy, there is much better concentration in class, resulting in better class participation. It certainly is also a factor in reducing dropouts in the middle of the school year.

The main beneficiaries of the school feeding program are the undernourished school children, especially the children in the elementary grades as they are inclined to catch cold, diseases or infections. At the start of the program, all the participants were taken a base weight and height as a basis. Attendance  and participation are also monitored. The acquisition of the basics of Literacy and Numeracy is closely watched by the teachers, with whom the children spend a lot of time during the day. Every day, meals served varies — hot dishes are healthy, delicious and definitely nutritious. As one of the parents commented, “The food served is loaded.”

I believe the youth of today will someday lead their communities and the world. What kind of leaders they be will depend to a large extent on how we, their elders, prepare and educate them today. These children of today are the future!


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