Trachoma is one of the oldest known infectious diseases. A bacterial disease, trachoma is spread easily through contact with eye discharge of infected individuals and through transmission by flies attracted to eye discharge. After years of repeated infection, the inside of the eyelid may be scarred so severely that the eyelid turns inward and the lashes rub on the eyeball, scarring the cornea. This results in a slow and painful process toward complete blindness. Children and women are most susceptible to trachoma. Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has been fighting the disease, in partnership with The Carter Center, since 1999.
LCIF recently joined partners, including The Carter Center, Pfizer, and the International Trachoma Initiative, to celebrate the donation of the 500 millionth dose of Zithromax® (azithromycin) tablets, an antibiotic used to treat trachoma in certain countries.
The milestone marks significant achievement in global efforts to help eliminate this preventable eye disease as a public health threat by the year 2020. The Lions of Ethiopia, under the active leadership of Past District Governor, Hon. Dr. Med., World Laureate Tebebe Y. Berhan, remain committed to the elimination of trachoma.
Click here learn more about how LCIF and other organizations are partnering to end trachoma by 2020.
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has recently awarded a US$60,000 refugee assistance grant to the Lions of District 118—R in Turkey. A total of 54 Lions clubs will use the funds to purchase 2,000 backpacks and fill them with blankets, undergarments, towels, hygiene products, bottled drinking water, and numerous other supplies. These unisex backpacks will be packed by the Lions themselves and given to the Turkish Coast Guard, who will distribute them to refugees who are rescued at sea.
Since the beginning of 2015, 54,000 refugees have been rescued by the Turkish Coast Guard. The refugees travel with very little and, when rescued, typically have lost whatever they brought were carrying. The backpacks will meet immediate needs for those rescued and taken back to Turkey.
SMiLE (Social Media Including Lions Everywhere) is a group of Lions from around the world dedicated to helping all Lions make an even greater impact through social media. We caught up with the SMiLE team to ask them a few questions about who they are, how they’re connecting with Lions and what’s in store for the future.
The SMiLE project started out in 2012 with volunteers from Belgium and Germany. Soon after the start up, Lions from Italy, United States and India joined, followed by Lions from Sweden, France, Canada and Panama. SMiLE members range from Lions members to District Governors to Council Chairs and cover all ages. In terms of languages, SMiLE has native speaking Lions in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Hindi and Chinese. SMiLE meetings are organized using Google Hangouts (similar to Skype) which allow us to have video meetings with up to nine people.
Sometimes Lions just need a push in the right direction. The SMiLE team believes in leading by example: showing clubs why social media is important and how it can help their club and district by sharing other clubs’ success stories. SMiLE acts as an information hub — we collect and share information about social media used by Lions through our blog, social media and seminar presentations.
Overcoming the resistance to social media. In many clubs, social media is not utilized because Lions fear what they do not know. SMiLE provides information about social media good practice and examples of clubs that implemented social media successfully. Just knowing that there is help and information available within our Lions organization can help Lions get the approval within their clubs to start using social media.
Promoting SMiLE. Getting SMiLE known among Lions is getting followers on social media. We got help from LCI in the past, but being featured on the LCI social media only gives spikes in terms of visitors and new likes. What has proven to be the best way to gain followers is to publish Lions social media related articles on a weekly basis. This gets us 25 to 50 new likes per week depending the subject. Valuable and interesting content is shared, liked or followed easily.
Not only can Lions help spread the word, they should also share their social media success stories (and failures) with us. SMiLE is a social media information hub for Lions, and the more interesting content we provide, the more people will visit our website and social media platforms.
Whenever Lions talk about social media, mention SMiLE and use our resources and presentations or parts of it. Follow us on social media and share our content on your Lions social media pages so more Lions benefit .
Currently SMiLE is working together with LCI e-learning department to help prepare the webinar “Social Media as a Leadership Tool”. This webinar will discuss how Lions can widen their sphere of influence via social media to promote and strengthen club, zone and district service activities, membership, and fundraising.
Social Media as a Lions Leadership Tool
In the near future we plan to extend the SMiLE resource website section with ‘Best Practices’, ‘Showcase Success stories’ and ‘Training Materials.’
We are planning to use our Lions Selfie campaign knowledge to help promote the Lions Centennial projects. We would like to aggregate social media posts about the four Centennial service focus areas : Youth, Vision, Hunger and Environment by introducing specific hashtags. This would enable us to gather and centralize Lions Centennial efforts worldwide and showcase them on a ‘Lions Centennial Wall’. Typically, hashtags work great on Twitter and Instagram, so by setting up this ‘Lions Centennial Wall’ project we hope Lions learn how to Tweet and Instagram.
Another project is to get Lions to record a short video message congratulating Lions Clubs International for its 100th birthday in their own language. We are currently looking into ways of shooting short video messages using a mobile device with easy uploading and hashtag capabilities. The result would be a ‘Happy Birthday Lions’ video wall with a variety of worldwide congratulations!
Yes! Many Lions may think that they cannot contribute because they are not technically skilled. In addition to people who can write interesting social media articles that Lions enjoy reading, we need translators too. Having information in multiple languages enables us to share the information with more non-English speaking Lions all over the world. As we speak, SMiLE translation teams are being created with multiple volunteers to guarantee timely translations and introduce proofreading for better quality. Lions who want to volunteer can drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
The end of the year is such a busy time for so many people. Preparing for the end of one year and the beginning of the next takes a lot of work. Even so, you Lions continue to serve your communities. Well done, Lions!
I recently saw some of the work Lions are doing in Cuba. Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF) SightFirst program is alive and well there. In partnership with Christian Blind Ministries, the German Lions and the Churches of Cuba, LCIF continues to support services for babies born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Fighting childhood blindness is a priority for SightFirst and increasing the number of eye care personnel available to screen and treat ROP is one way to do that.
Every day, we are realizing International President Yamada’s theme of “Dignity, Harmony and Humanity.” We provide dignity to those we serve, we work together in a spirit of harmony, and we serve humanity by helping those in need.
Lions around the world are united by a great spirit of giving and dedication to helping others, proving that “Where there is a need, there is a Lion.” LCIF is here to support your compassionate works by providing grant funding for your local and global humanitarian efforts.
As 2015 comes to a close, please consider supporting your Foundation so that we can continue improving lives for years to come.
Together in Service,
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Read the rest of the December newsletter here.
Today’s guest blog post is by Bradley Moss: A third generation Lion with 12 years of service, President of the Portugal Cove – St. Philip’s Lions Club in District N-4, and Chair of his District Sight Conservation and Work with the Blind Committee. Do you have a Lions story to share? Contribute to the Lions Blog!
So I’ve been getting it a lot since we returned from our first Lions / Team Broken Earth vision mission to Hôpital Bernard Mevs in Port au Prince: “How was Haiti?”
I don’t know that I can describe it in a word. I can’t do it in a paragraph either. I can tell you there are a number of vivid memories I have, but don’t ask me to pick a favorite. How do you choose between the dignified smile of an elderly woman who could read her Bible again, or the instant grin of a young girl who couldn’t read the board in school, or the “eureka moment” a young boy has when he sees his grandmother’s face clearly for the very first time, and her “eureka moment” as she sees him properly again through her own new glasses? Maybe it’s the older man who waited for hours in the heat, and found himself first in line to see an Optometrist when we had to close for the day, and who just repeatedly said “God bless you” as he walked out the door after being told he could come back tomorrow as a priority.
While the doctors and nurses of Team Broken Earth labored in clinics and operating rooms across the street in the hospital, saving and changing lives around the clock and doing their best; while patients were being treated outdoors and family members wept in the courtyard and slept on the ground at night, our little team of five people screened 643 people and dispensed eyeglasses to 423 men, women and children who needed them over the course of the five day clinic. The icing on the cake was meeting our fellow Lions from Haiti. I had never greeted a complete stranger in another country that way: with a hug and a smile and a feeling, to use a Newfoundland term, they’re “solid” because they are Lions like us. This is the power of Lionism: a borderless family united in service; a worldwide force for good.
I’ve never recounted the story without saying we fell in love with the Haitian people. Maybe it’s an “island thing” between us.
The next question I get is usually “Would you go back?”
Try and stop us.
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