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.

Lions and Reading Is Fundamental

Lions Literacy Partnerships a Recipe for Success

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Today is International Literacy Day! We welcome guest bloggers Jennifer Moone, Director of Government Relations & Community Outreach at Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Ron McKinney, Past President of the Hamilton Lakes Lions Club, North Carolina.

Take two determined civic organizations like the Hamilton Lakes Lions Club and United Methodist Women (UMW) of Christ United Methodist Church, many dedicated individual community members, sprinkle in support from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), and the result? An incredible display of the impact that we can make in our communities when we unite. That’s exactly what we saw happen this past spring as our groups came together to make a difference for the students of Hampton Elementary School!

Hampton is located in the Cottage Grove Community, a historically impoverished area in Greensboro, North Carolina. The situation is often dire for low-income children during the summer months, where they can lose up to three months of learning without access to books and educational opportunities, and that learning gap continues to widen as the years go on.

What started as an effort by the UMW to help provide RIF books to students for their summer reading as well as RIF’s classroom book collections, and accompanying teaching guides for educators, grew beyond expectation. With a strong commitment to building children’s literacy skills, the Lions club stepped up next! They wanted to help give even more books to the kids so that each student was able to select eight books total to build their home libraries for the summer, along with bags filled with RIF’s summer reading activity sheets. Lions and UMW members visited the school to distribute the books and help send the students off for a summer filled with reading fun. The impact of this work grew further as the groups also coordinated food pantry donations, playground equipment, beautification of the campus by the Cub Scouts, and more.

It was remarkable to see what a difference our organizations can make when we pull together our resources and volunteers to serve our community. We saw beyond a doubt that allowing children to select and keep new books inspires them to read and they know we care when we spend time reading aloud with them.

We are proud of what we’ve achieved together and hope it might serve as inspiration today on International Literacy Day, as we know so many Lions around the world work to make a difference in their own backyards and help children develop a love of reading.

For more information on RIF including activities and fun, please visit rif.org. For more information on Lions literacy projects and the Reading Action Program, visit lionsclubs.org.

We’d love to hear more about how your Lions club is serving your local community in support of the Centennial Service Challenge using #LIONS100.

LCIF logo

Lions in Nigeria Aid Cancer Patients

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One morning, as administrator Stella Agbogun made her rounds in the Radiotherapy Department at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Nigeria, she happened upon a young man comforting his weeping mother in the hallway.

They had traveled to Lagos from Cross River, a Nigerian state more than 400 miles away, so the woman could receive cancer treatment at LUTH. But without any money or relatives in Lagos, the pair had nowhere to stay. They were desperate and completely alone.

Agbogun, a Lion, knew something had to be done to help the family and those like them—who travel from far and wide for access to LUTH’s Radiotherapy Department but lack the resources to secure housing for themselves during treatment.

“They had nowhere to sleep,” says Agbogun. “They had no relations in Lagos, and they did not have enough money for their accommodation. I was moved by pity. After that incident, I made the decision to be a positive change, to create a better living environment for cancer patients.”

Agbogun, District 404 B governor then, saw an opportunity to serve her community and improve the lives of vulnerable individuals. She collaborated with LUTH and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) to develop plans for Mercy Home, a housing facility for cancer patients at the hospital.

Agbogun worked both with the LUTH management team to finalize details and secure the space for Mercy Home and with Lion leaders to complete the project. With plans for 20 beds, Mercy Home would offer temporary accommodation for radiotherapy patients and their relatives who cannot afford accommodations in Lagos.

With the help of a US$75,000 Standard grant from LCIF, arrangements for the construction of Mercy Home were put in place. On a rainy day in July, behind the Radiotherapy Department at LUTH, Lions and local dignitaries gathered to break ground on the special facility that was years in the making.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Professor Akin Osibogun, the chief medical Director of LUTH, elatedly described how honored the hospital was to commission Mercy Home. The facility was a dream realized.

“LUTH’s management team sealed the entire deal by giving us this space, where Mercy Home stands,” Agbogun said at the ceremony. “They gave us easy access to the institution and were ready to render assistance and encouragement.”

Mercy Home now stands as a symbol of hope to people in some of the darkest times of their lives, as well as a reminder that wherever a need arises in the community, Lions will find a way to meet the challenge.

For information on Standard grants and how your Lions club can apply, visit lcif.org.

Mercy Home is a residence for low-income cancer patients in Lagos.

Mercy Home is a residence for low-income cancer patients in Lagos.

This article by Eric Margules first appeared in the July/August issue of LION Magazine.




LQ: Lions Support Community Garden

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“And that’s our goal: To make sure nobody starves or goes hungry in North Shore Kauai.”

Community members in need of food can often look to local food pantries for help; however, not many food pantries offer healthy choices such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and other produce. When a local church in North Shore Kauai started a community garden to provide greens for its food pantry, the local Lions stepped in to help the garden grow. Now, the garden produces hundreds of pounds of food each week to feed families in the community.

Watch the above Lions Quarterly video segment to learn more about the garden, and download the video to share at your next meeting or event. Consider starting or becoming involved in a community garden as a part of the Relieving the Hunger Centennial Service Challenge, and help Lions everywhere serve 100 million people by 2018.

Lions of Kathmandu

LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, August 2015

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When natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions are able to rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). Emergency grants provide up to US$10,000 for districts impacted by a natural disaster that has affected at least 100 people, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis.

In August 2015, LCIF awarded 16 emergency and disaster relief grants totaling US$105,000. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

India, District 322-B2
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 322-C1
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 322-C3
$5,000 for flood relief

Nepal, District 325-B1Lions distribute relief materials
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 323-B
$5,000 for flood relief

Bangladesh, District 315-A1
$5,000 for flood relief

Bangladesh, District 315-B2
$5,000 for flood relief

Canada, District 5-SKN
$10,000 for wildfire relief

Micronesia, District 204
$10,000 for typhoon relief

India, District 323-G1
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 323-H1
$5,000 for flood relief

Argentina, District O-2
$5,000 for flood relief

Italy, District 108-YA
$10,000 for flood relief

Macedonia, District 132
$10,000 for flood relief

Bangladesh, District 315-A2
$5,000 for flood relief

Washington, USA, District 19-E
$10,000 for wildfire relief


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Thursday, January 31, 2013

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Lions Benefit Concert Raises Funds

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On January 13, Lions District 20R-1 (Rockland, Northern Westchester and Putnam, New York) hosted a benefit concert featuring the Norm Hathaway Big Band, known for its swing, jazz,…

Video: A Leo Club’s 2012 Year in Review

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Weil am Rhein Leo Club in Germany had a great 2012. Activities included airplane flights, a houseboat trip, a summer camp for kids, a horse-drawn caravan ride…

LCIF’s Vision for the World

Friday, January 18, 2013

Few organizations have the vision of LCIF. When Helen Keller challenged Lions Clubs International in 1925 to lead the cause of preserving and restoring sight, few could have…