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.
My relationship with the Youth Camp and Exchange program is very personal and it changed my life in many ways. I first became involved in summer of 1996, when I participated in the Lions Camp in Bonn in Germany. My stay in Germany enabled me to get acquainted with my future unforgettable friends, and to get to know the Institutions in Bonn at that time — the Headquarters of parliament and government of Germany.
The most important aspect of the camp was to meet friends for life. With some campers I still have good contacts and we still meet. During the stay I became very fond of my host family, and with them I experienced everyday life. They are still my German family, and I still have very good relations with them. We have met several times since 1996. Also at that time there was war in Croatia, and this opportunity to visit and join this kind of program gave me new and more optimistic view of the future, opened new windows and gave me more confidence and self- esteem.
All those facts convinced me that through the YCE program, youth and host families could develop very strong relations. Links and strengths that could be established for future society.
From the very beginning, it is friendship without reserve.
When I was offered to take charge of leading YCE in Croatia, District 126, I knew that not only Croatia would benefit, but for all countries in the world.
Being in close contact with host families who participated in the program, they informed me about the stay of youth and their experience. Often they tell me that the participants want to return next year, and sometimes wish to be a host family in the future. Being in contact with parents of the youth participating in program, they tell me about the children’s positive change after returning from the exchange – more confident, more mature, more self-esteem and friendships established.
This program wouldn’t work without the enthusiastic Lions around the worldwho devote their time to connect Lions, youth and families in the spirit of the first Lions objective: “To foster the spirit of understanding between the nations of the world.”
If I had to summarize the YCE program in 5 phrases: Friendship, connecting people, Lions, positive impact and self development.
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