News Release: LCIF and Lions work with USAID to Improve Educational Opportunities for the Visually Impaired in Macedonia (FYROM)

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Lions Clubs of Macedonia (FYROM), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have launched a 30-month initiative to increase the quality and accessibility of educational services for children with visual impairments.

LCIF and USAID are each providing US$250,000 to support this project, which will be implemented by South East European University (SEEU) and local Lions, in collaboration with the National Union of the Blind, the National Ophthalmological Society, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.

This project is the result of the Lions Clubs International (LCI) partnership with USAID that began in June 2012. The LCI-USAID partnership will engage local Lions club members to provide vision screenings for preschool and school-aged children and promote literacy by producing educational and recreational reading materials in Braille and large print. Lions also will participate in the recording of audio books and work to promote inclusive education for children with visual impairments.

“This project has energized the Lions Clubs of Macedonia,” said LCI International President Joe Preston at the kick-off event in Tetovo. “It has given them new focus and purpose. It is a perfect example of what partners can accomplish when they come together to address a common need.”

“Access to a quality education is a universal human right,” said James Stein, USAID Mission Director. “Currently, less than one percent of visually impaired Macedonian children are able to read Braille. And for those who can, the scope of Braille texts available is still remarkably narrow. How can these children learn if they cannot read? How can they learn to read without books?”

Representatives from LCIF, USAID, Lions Clubs of Macedonia and other partners were on hand to launch the project at SEEU in November.

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About Lions Clubs International
Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. Our 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs are serving communities in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the globe. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened local communities through hands-on service and humanitarian projects. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.

About Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)
LCIF is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.35 million men and women members in more than 200 countries and geographical areas worldwide. Since 1968, LCIF supports Lions by providing grant funding for their local and global humanitarian efforts, including preventing avoidable blindness on a global scale for more than 20 years through LCIF’s SightFirst program. To date, Lions are investing US$415 million in SightFirst’s local capacity building efforts and have helped restore sight to millions worldwide. Learn more at www.lcif.org.

About USAID Macedonia
The American people, through USAID, have invested over $500 million in Macedonia since 1993. USAID works with the people of Macedonia to create jobs, strengthen democratic institutions and practices, enhance integrated education, and prepare students for the workforce. These initiatives improve the quality of life and support Macedonia’s transition to a stable and prosperous democracy. USAID provides economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries.

 LCIF Media Contact
Cassandra Bannon
Communications Specialist


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Lions in Japan Use LCIF Standard Grant to Renovate Guide Dog Training Center

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In 1925, Helen Keller challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” And we accepted. Today, service to the blind remains a key service area for Lions around the world.

The Kobe Guide Dog Training Center was established in Hyogo prefecture in 1990, and is operated by the Hyogo Guide Dogs Association. The center, dedicated to providing guide dogs to the blind and visually impaired at no cost, has raised approximately 70 guide dogs. Guide dogs enable visually impaired people to live with increased mobility and independence.

Raising guide dogs is an extensive process that includes selective breeding, professional training, recipient screening, graduation, and placement. Each successful guide dog requires one entire year of preparation, and the equivalent of approximately US$60,000 in formal training, housing, vet care, and specialized placement fees.

Demand for the guide dogs is substantial, and the waiting list is constantly growing. Presently, more than 300,000 blind and visually impaired people live in Japan, but only a fraction of them employ guide dogs. On average, only 30 percent of dogs trained as guide dog companions are deemed suitable and placed with visually impaired individuals. Therefore, for every 10 successful guide dogs, 30 dogs must be raised and trained.

The Kobe Guide Dog Training Center is in need of repairs. With the help of a US$65,000 LCIF Standard Grant, the Lions of District 335-A are supporting building renovations. Lions will work to repair cracked walls and replace the floor, which will include a built-in heating system, as well as other repairs throughout the facility.

Click here to learn more about Lions’ service to the blind and visually impaired.

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The Lions Holiday Float is here!

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Today’s guest post was written by Lion Alastair McKechnie from the Gillingham, Mere and Shaftesbury Lions Club in England. Read about how their Santa Float has become a tradition in their community. Not even a broken tractor and missing speakers could stop their dress rehearsal! For more, visit the GMS Lions Facebook page.

The amount of times GMS Lions heard, ‘Now I know it is Christmas, the Lions Santa Float is here’ has been amazing. It reinforces that the GMS Christmas Santa has become a local tradition, it is looked forward to, adds a touch of magic to Christmas and as a by-product makes money that is used to support local needy causes.

“I can really see that this is a fabulous tradition, it raises money that is going to be used on great local causes – over forty local causes were serviced from lions funds last year – and the look and excitement on the faces of children, parents and the elderly as the Lions float went around made those made dashes back from Bristol worthwhile,” expressed Lion Al. “The amount we have raised this year is a fantastic testament to not only the Lions and their volunteers who have given up their time, but more to the generous nature of the wonderful people from Gillingham, Mere and Shaftesbury. Every penny really does count.”

We could not have done it without the determined effort from volunteers, dedicated drivers and Santa. Thank you to everyone who helped out and worked as a team to make this a memorable and fun time.

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Fundraising in Turkey

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The Izmir Gündoğdu Lions Kulübü held a fundraiser to assist children with kidney problems who are receiving dialysis. Clothing items, accessories, decorations, food and drinks were some of the items they had for sale at their tables. Their profits went to the children in the dialysis department at the Ege University Children’s Hospital.

Follow the Izmir Gündoğdu Lions on Facebook for more pictures of this event and current activities.

What types of fundraisers does your club participate in?

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LQ: Lions Embrace Another Melvin Jones

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More than 10 years ago, Lions helped establish the Melvin Jones Health Center near Trujillo, Peru. This 24 hour center sees 300 patients every day for general medicine, pediatrics, emergency care and child birth. On the day of inauguration in 2002, the first baby was born at the center. To show her thanks to the Lions, the mother named the baby Melvin Jones.

When the Trujillo El Porvenir Lions Club decided to find Melvin for the International President’s visit, they found that he was no longer in school. After meeting Melvin and hearing his story, Past International President Barry Palmer knew that the Lions could help make a difference in Melvin’s life.

Take a look at the clip above and see how the Lions helped Melvin with his education and are extending support to all children. You can watch the entire October Lions Quarterly on the Lions News Network

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