These few words say so much about what our organization means to the people we help. Earlier this month, I heard those words from a mother that I met at a clinic in Cuba, where her daughter was being treated for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Her daughter was born prematurely. She was so small when she was born that her eyes did not develop properly, causing ROP.
Through an LCIF SightFirst grant to provide special equipment, the clinic was able to detect the disorder, treat the condition and save the girl’s sight. Thanks to this life-altering equipment and the contributions of Lions, we are saving the sight of premature babies at risk for ROP throughout the world.
This is what LCIF and Lions are all about – service where it is needed most. You can view a short video below of my visit and meet the amazing little girl who was helped through the support of Lions.
LCIF efforts like saving vision, as well as empowering youth, providing disaster relief and meeting humanitarian needs, cannot be done without your generous support. During my visits as Chairperson, I have been asking Lions to support our Foundation to increase these valuable humanitarian programs. And Lions have responded. Because of your generous support, we will soon announce a new program to recognize District Governors and Coordinators who increase giving to LCIF.
Thank you for your support!
Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation
Next month, Lions around the world will celebrate Lions World Sight Day. This international event is held each year to recognize the importance of curing preventable blindness. From vision screenings to eye health education and any other vision-related activity, Lions are encouraged to participate.
The focus of this year’s World Sight Day, held on October 9, is “no more avoidable blindness.” October’s Global Service Action Campaign is “Sharing the Vision,” so you can carry the spirit of World Sight Day throughout the whole month!
The official Lions Clubs International World Sight Day celebration will be held in Iceland on October 14. As part of the event, LCIF approved a US$70,000 SightFirst grant last Augustto support the eye health activities in Reykjavik. Funds will be used to purchase needed eye care equipment for the University Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology.
While many think of charity as harmless acts of altruism and good intentions, Binod Chaudhary, a Nepalese businessman, philanthropist and founder of the Chaudhary Group Foundation, sees it as a stumbling block to philanthropy–a way to use money to make problems disappear without addressing the fundamental issues.
But Chaudhary and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) have a solution: microenterprise. At the 97th Lions Clubs International Convention, LCIF Chairperson Wayne Madden and the LCI executive officers signed a memorandum of understanding pledging US$200,000 to support the Chaudhary Group Foundation’s microenterprise pilot, Nepal Social Business.
“We share a vision of a better world without poverty,” said Chaudhary, “where everybody has access to health service, education and employment, and where socially critical and green businesses promoted by bright and young ideas become self-sustainable enterprises.”
The funds from LCIF, together with an existing US$1 million contribution from the Chaudhary Group, will help Nepal Social Business provide aspiring social business entrepreneurs with resources and training to build successful businesses (a process called incubation). Once developed, Chaudhary believes these businesses will spur growth in their local economies, making a positive impact on some of the most vulnerable regions and populations in the developing nation.
As part of the initial pilot program, the Chaudhary Group Foundation selected six projects at various stages of development to receive support. Pilot projects range from eco-tourism development and environmental management, to educational centers and even an organic manufacturing cooperative, and all share a deep commitment to addressing social issues in their communities.
“Our vision is to create 5,000 such businesses in Nepal within the next five years and thereby to change the lives of thousands of unemployed youth through the creation of social businesses,” said Chaudhary. “I’m truly privileged to sign this path-breaking agreement between Chaudhary Foundation and the Lions Club International Foundation.”
Local Lions will be involved in Nepal Social Business projects at all levels of operation. From selection through incubation and eventual launch, Nepal Social Business will call on the local Lions’ depth of knowledge and experience to provide guidance and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Whether as on-the-ground support–organizing facilities and acting as first contact for potential partners–as a part of specialized advisory boards, or even as coaches and mentors for entrepreneurs, Lions will be the heart and soul of a partnership that hopes to make the dreams of young Nepalese entrepreneurs a reality.
*This story by Eric Margules is from the October 2014 edition of LION Magazine.
Lions can make a big difference in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. In Australia, the Inner Sydney West Special Olympics Lions Club is exemplifying the partnership between Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Special Olympics.
LCIF has been partnering with Special Olympics since 2001 through the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes vision screening program. Now, the partnership’s efforts are having a much wider reach.
Called “Mission: Inclusion,” the partnership expansion is creating leadership opportunities for Special Olympics athletes, increasing the health work of Special Olympics, and conducting outreach to families for additional support. Both organizations can now reach more young people through inclusive sports and advocacy programs in an effort to achieve full acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in their communities.
Athletes and Lions club members like Jamie Elvie know the true value of inclusion:
“Through Lions, [athletes] will develop skills in organization, goal setting and managing their time. Most importantly, though, they will have the pleasure of helping others. Rather than being the recipient of charity they will be able to dispense it and discover the rewards of knowing that you are contributing to your community,” said Elvie.
Elvie joined the Inner Sydney West Special Olympics Lions Club of Australia four years ago. He has been a member of Special Olympics since 2009: first as an athlete in several sports, and now through managing athletes at ten-pin bowling.
“I was already involved with the local Special Olympics and it was a logical move to join a Lions club that had a focus on helping Special Olympics,” said Elvie.
Through this specialty club, a variety of Lions’ projects support people in need both locally and globally. At the same time, the club focuses on Special Olympics on the regional and national levels. This focus gives Elvie and other Special Olympic members a chance to work with their fellow Lions on what the Special Olympic athletes need, as well as address the community on Lions clubs and Special Olympics, encouraging support for both.
“Many of the club members are also long-term members of Special Olympics, either as athletes or as parents/care-givers of athletes and consequently have strong understanding of how Special Olympics operates and a keen interest in seeing the organization well supported,” said Elvie.
Tony Moore, president of the Inner Sydney West Special Olympics Lions Club, is grateful for how the members contribute to the club’s activities.
“There is no difference between Special Olympic athlete members and other members. The only distinction is that they have unique insights into Special Olympics and the needs of athletes which, as a club, we tap into,” said Moore.
Formed in 2009, the Inner Sydney West Special Olympics Lions Club of Australia truly exemplifies Mission: Inclusion.
“The objective is to provide developmental opportunities for the athletes and to ensure that the athletes are represented and have a voice in decision making,” said Moore. “From experience we know the value athletes bring to an organization, whether through their various skills or their capacity to present to the public or through their enormous enthusiasm and commitment.”
For more information about special interest clubs for Special Olympics, visit the Lions Clubs International website. Visit the Special Olympics website to learn more about the organization and its efforts.