A series of strong earthquakes and aftershocks have struck the Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan over the past 72 hours, resulting in many fatalities, hundreds of injuries, and significant damage to buildings.
I know you join me in praying for the victims and families of this latest natural disaster.
Although the government and people of Japan are well-equipped to handle earthquake situations, Lions are standing by to provide whatever assistance is necessary. I am in close contact with Lions leaders in the region. They are meeting on Monday to determine whether an emergency grant is warranted and, if so, how it could best be used in this unfolding situation.
The generosity of Lions around the world enables us to respond when needed to disaster scenarios wherever they strike. This year alone LCIF has provided emergency grants in the amount of US$4.8 million. Emergency grants allow Lions on the scene to work with local governments and agencies as first respondents – providing food, water, clothing and other much needed supplies, as well as temporary housing.
No area of the world is immune to a natural disaster. But with 1.4 million members in over 200 countries or geographic areas, Lions are in a position to respond when necessary.
Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada
Also in this issue:
In the Digital LION, watch a video of the chariot races, view the latest LQ-Lions Quarterly and view the Higher Key Award recipients.
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At Lions Day with the United Nations on March 12, 2016, International President Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada presented a special plaque and a check for US$5,000 to 12-year-old Joel Greek from South Africa, for his winning Lions International Peace Essay.
The annual Peace Essay Contest encourages blind and visually impaired young people to express their thoughts of peace through the written word. The theme for the 2015-16 contest was “Share Peace.” Gordon Bay’s Lions Club President Jimmy Lang chose Joel’s essay as the winning piece for his Lions district.
Life has been challenging for Joel and his mother, who raised Joel on her own. The two of them live in a backyard in Cape Town. Joel had a brain tumor when he was 6 months old and had to go through chemotherapy. Doctors doubted that he would live past the age of 1. The tumor resulted in optic glaucoma, and he is now blind in one eye and has partial vision in the other. He has had tumors his entire life, including one that caused him to be hospitalized around the time he submitted his essay.
Despite all of this, Joel wrote in his essay, “I myself am a young boy with a disability, the only one in my family. Yet they accept me knowing I am capable of anything. We have an opportunity to change the world.”
You can read Joel’s full essay here.
For Lions in District 303 in Hong Kong and Macau, China, fulfilling one of the purposes of Lions Clubs International—to create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the world—starts in the school yard. Through the Lions Sister Schools Scheme, Lions are helping students with and without disabilities to build relationships, learn from one another and have fun.
Launched in 1981 with the education department in Hong Kong, the program matches special education schools with traditional schools to encourage understanding among students and give children with disabilities more opportunities to interact with their peers. Lions provide financial assistance and organize activities for the paired schools.
By 1995, 50 out of 72 schools in the area serving children with disabilities—such as vision impairment, hearing impairment and learning or physical disabilities—were participating in the program. At the Lutheran School for the Deaf in Hong Kong, student volunteers from five local schools participated in arts and crafts, played sports and worked on speaking skills with its students—who in turn helped their peers who can hear learn to communicate with them.
“I learn more from them about overcoming obstacles than they from me,” said Josephine Tsang Ching-yu, a student who participated in the program in the mid-1990s.
As the relationships continued, administrators at the Lutheran School for the Deaf noticed its students becoming more confident and less reserved. Parents noticed similar changes at home. “Their student helpers treat them like brothers and sisters,” said administrator Theresa Fong Yuk-ying.
Participation levels have remained high over time as Lions and Leo clubs continued to sponsor the program and organize activities including hand painting, gardening and other exercises that encourage creativity, responsibility and care for the environment. The goal is always the same: to create awareness and build understanding.
At the 2013 Lions Clubs International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, District 303 received International President Wayne Madden’s World of Service Award. At the awards ceremony, which recognized Lions who exemplified the association’s commitment service in different categories, the Lions Sister Schools Scheme was named Best Youth Engagement Project.
April is Leo Club Awareness Month! To celebrate and recognize Leo clubs, the Lions Blog will feature stories about Leo service projects around the world. Today’s story was written by Leo Madi Berry, President of the Village Bible Academy Leo Club in California, USA. With the help and guidance of its sponsor, the Seal Beach Lions Club, the Village Bible Academy Leo Club has grown to include 68 homeschooled Leo club members.
When the given an opportunity to raise awareness for the Los Angeles Watershed, our club immediately jumped on board. The Rain Day Watershed Fair featured several educational booths where kids of all ages could engage in hands-on education through games and crafts. Leos were stationed at each booth and led activities for the kids. Every Leo, whether they were in sixth or twelfth grade, exemplified leadership.
Leos also gained experience with planning projects, practicing teamwork, and teaching about our environment. That, however, is just the experience we gained from working at one event. With the multitude of events we work each year, the Leo Club Program allows us to gain so much experience in many different areas.
This year, we have also been given the opportunity to watch. We can watch the young girl’s face light up as she plays in the snow we spent hours setting up by the beach in sunny Southern California. We can watch the elderly man beam with joy when we give him a Valentine’s Day card and some of our time. We can watch the difference we make in the world and in the lives around us.
Through the Leo Club Program, we have the ability to lead, the chance to gain experience, and the opportunity to make a difference. No call for help is ever ignored and together, no task is ever too big. No matter how young we are, with the support of our fellow Leos and Lions we can accomplish amazing, unbelievable things. Our members realize not only what a great privilege it is to serve, but also what it means to truly be a Leo. We are Leos and we serve.
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