Hidden in cities and villages across Zimbabwe, many beyond the reach of modern technology, more than 5 million children under the age of 15 face the threat of death from devastating diseases. Many of these diseases, such as measles, can be easily prevented by a series of inexpensive vaccinations.
Luckily, where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.
Lions knew something had to be done, but stopping the spread of a disease such as measles requires resources and collaboration on an almost unimaginable scale. That’s why, since 2013, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has partnered with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to meet the challenge of measles in Zimbabwe—and around the world—head-on.
Last September, LCIF, the Lions of Zimbabwe and Gavi partnered with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care to begin a massive five-day catch-up campaign to provide 5.2 million children with the measles-rubella vaccine and vitamin A supplements. With the Ministry of Health and Child Care coordinating the campaign, Gavi supplied millions of the vaccinations and vitamin supplements, while Lions took to the streets to mobilize volunteers and spread the word about the campaign.
With the help of a $100,000 grant from LCIF, Lions in Zimbabwe blanketed the airways, roadways and even cellphones with reminders about the campaign. To spread the word to families without access to television or radio, Lions and Leos teamed up to canvas marketplaces and other public spaces with fliers.
“There has been huge participation from Lions clubs, and the response from the community has been outstanding,” says Jonah Machaya, second vice district 412 governor. “We’ve sent out SMSs. We’ve done billboards. We’ve sent out radio feeds. We’ve sent out cellphone feeds. We have been in touch with most of the community of Zimbabwe.”
According to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care, who reported that all of the target population received vaccinations and nearly 90 percent received the vitamin supplement, it’s clear that Lions’ efforts were successful.
“We saw an advert in the newspaper and we felt that it’s our duty as parents to make sure [our] kids are vaccinated against the measles,” says one parent whose children received their vaccines during the campaign. “It has benefited us immensely because it is just a short distance from where we stay and also it is free of charge. The support is fantastic.”
The success of the measles rubella campaign demonstrates what Lions and partners can accomplish when they come together for the good of their communities. Much still remains to be done to combat measles around the world. As a part of their partnership, LCIF and its volunteers are raising $30 million to help Gavi fund similar campaigns in some of the world’s poorest countries. Funds raised by Lions will be matched by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring the total to $60 million. To learn more about how LCIF and Gavi are working together to combat measles visit lcif.org/EN/our-work/humanitarian-efforts/measles.php.
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 comes A.L.I.A.D.O.S. Leo Club in Argentina. This Alpha Leo club is sponsored by the Paraná Parque Urquiza Lions Club. The Leo club’s initials stand for Amistad (Friendship), Liderazgo (Leadership), Integración (Integration), Acción (Action), Diversidad (Diversity), Oportunidad (Opportunity), and Servicio Solidario (Solidarity in Service). The A.L.I.A.D.O.S. Leo Club recently celebrated its two year anniversary. It was charted in February 2014.
The A.L.I.A.D.O.S. Leo Club participated in a joint project with AFS Intercultural Programs, an international youth exchange organization. Together, Leos and AFS volunteers collect and recycle plastic bottles and synthetic materials to create bricks or “Ecoladrillos” for the sustainable construction of a sculpture in the Plaza de las Mujeres Entrerrianas.
The goal of the project is to encourage others to recycle by raising awareness through the construction of the art sculpture in the community plaza.
During the month of April, Leo clubs can consider joining Lions in the Protecting Our Environment Centennial Service Challenge. For other Leo clubs interested in completing a similar project, the A.L.I.A.D.O.S. Leo Club offered a few tips:
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 the Metro Methodist College Kuala Lumpur Leo Club in Malaysia. This Omega Leo Club was chartered in October 2011 by the Sunway Damansara Metro Lions Club.
As the saying goes, “blessing others is indeed a blessing”. For the past four years, the Metro Methodist College Kuala Lumpur Leo Club has organized an ongoing “Tuition Project” at the Tamil Methodist Church every Saturday morning. The primary purpose of this project is to expose children at a tender age, from 7-17, to as much knowledge as possible and teach them basic social interaction skills.
The Tuition Project lasts from 10:30-12:30pm and 1:30-3:30pm. Each week, our Leo club has about 5-9 members help out and tutor youth in their studies. During the morning session, the Leos teach English and Mathematics to the children for approximately one hour each.
During the afternoon session, the Leos play games and interact with the kids to learn more about them. This helps the kids break social barriers and open up to people, thus making it easier for them to interact with others and make new friends. In addition, many of the children have difficulties speaking proper English, so this program helps them improve their grammar and their fluency in speaking.
Not only does this project bring benefit to the children, but it also brings out the best in us Leos when we humble ourselves and put ourselves in their shoes. Being more fortunate, we tend to overlook the great opportunities we have been offered and take things for granted. By seeing things from the perspective of the less fortunate, we learn to be thankful for what we have been graced with and that even a small act of kindness can bring tremendous joy. The world may be cruel and cold, but if we try, we can succeed in shining lights into their worlds again. Good deeds may seem invisible, but they leave a trail that is imprinted in the hearts of others.
The fifth in our series of historical Centennial videos focuses on the global impact Lions have made by joining across borders and generations. From establishing emergency relief funds in the 1920s to our first Peace Poster Contest in 1988; from Lions’ partnership with the United Nations to Youth Exchange Camps around the world – learn the history of Lions’ dedication to peace and international understanding.
Lions can be found on the front lines of local recycling projects all around the world, reclaiming everything from scrap metal and old newspapers to medical devices and used cell phones.
The recycling effort Lions are best known for is the Recycle for Sight Program, which collects millions of used eyeglasses yearly for distribution in developing countries, where eye care is unaffordable or inaccessible for many people.
Simple and effective, the pioneering program that started in the 1930s remains a high-profile and frequently praised symbol of Lion practicality and service to others. “Unwanted or outdated eyeglasses, tucked away in drawers or closets, can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone in need,” Abigail Van Buren told readers of her syndicated “Dear Abby” column in 1996. The Lion eyeglass initiative is a “wonderful program,” she added.
Building on the success of that initiative, Lions in the early 2000s launched the Hearing Aid Recycling Program, which similarly collects and refurbishes donated hearing aids for distribution to those who lack funds to buy them.
Over time, however, Lions have taken up more conventional recycling chores, often led by Lions Green Teams. Around the globe, Lions Green Teams regularly gather and recycle huge quantities of scrap metal, paper, and other reusable projects. Each April, Lions dedicate a month of service to protecting the planet as part of the Global Service Action Campaign. The campaign’s recycling efforts help save energy, reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and conserve dwindling natural resources.
In Turkey, the Bursa Koza Lions Club collects plastic bottles for recycling “in order to prevent pollution of the environment and nature,” said club member Nuket Tuzlacioglu.
Recycling has another attraction for some clubs: Besides their environmental benefit, recycling programs often generate revenue that Lions can use to fund other good works.
In Arizona, the Prescott Noon Lions Club has collected and shipped nearly 53 million pounds of recyclable newsprint and other paper. By collecting newspapers and magazines in bins all around town, the club has raised more than US$200,000 to support local charities.
“If the paper is recycled, that means we don’t cut down as many trees,” explained Prescott Noon Lion Bill Parker.
In India, the Aldona Lions Club launched a garbage reduction program in local schools. Officials noted the plan was “converting waste to wealth,” as the schools benefited from funds raised by the sale of recyclable materials. In Penn Yan, a village in upstate New York, local Lions asked neighbors in the Finger Lake region to “help us help others by donating your scrap metal so we can recycle it and turn it into cash.”
Recycling work can be difficult, but the benefits to the community and the earth make the effort worthwhile.