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.
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.
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