Pamela Mohr 2013-01-07 21:48:14
LIONS CLUBS MAKE A BIG IMPACT WITH SERVICE PROJECTS Vision for Vietnam Fairfax Host, Virginia, Lion Marcia Selva admits that she wouldn’t have joined the 64-member club in late 2011 if the sole focus of Lions’ service didn’t reach far beyond the community. “Although I live in Fairfax, I spend a great deal of my time in Asia—Vietnam and Burma,” says Selva, an international travel agent and founder of the Global Community Service Foundation (GCSF). “We’ve been working with people with disabilities for over a decade in Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam and GCSF recently completed a new school for the visually impaired. I’m a real believer in ‘handson’ involvement.” She established the foundation to create community-based, sustainable programs to better lives through improved health care, education and income-generating activities for the Vietnamese people. “This is where some of the fiercest fighting took place [during the Vietnam War], where the DMZ was located and even today, is polluted with the effects of Agent Orange. Major eye-related disease and medical problems are glaucoma, cataract and trachoma,” says Fairfax Host Lion Dennis Brining, who was first approached by Selva for GCSF assistance. Selva found herself joining the club. “I know that the Fairfax Lions Club walks the walk. They don’t just talk the talk. They do serve,” she says. Working in cooperation with GCSF, Brining and 2011- 12 District 24 A Governor Dennis Kelly, a Springfield-Franconia Lion, obtained a $10,000 LCIF International Assistance grant to bring improved sight and health to the men, women and children throughout Quang Tri Province. Selva, Brining, Kelly and his wife, Cheryl, also a Lion, joined 15 other volunteers including GCSF personnel, an optometrist, University of Virginia medical staff, alumni and students. Lions received rigorous training to learn equipment and eye examination procedures. Local Vietnamese medical schools provided additional manpower during the mission. The team conducted eye screenings, distributed glasses and helped villagers with hygiene and medical needs. Lions brought with them more than 1,100 pairs of recycled eyeglasses that were donated by the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center of Northern Virginia. After witnessing blind employees at Vin Linh Blind Center making items for sale to the public, Brining gave a $1,000 grant from the Fairfax Host Lions to help build the center’s handicraft business. Kelly also pledged funds from his club to make repairs to its clinic. The 10-day humanitarian mission also included planting 1,500 trees with students from the Center for Children with Visual Disabilities. Brining and Selva later traveled to Burma, where GCSF has established a “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies” program. Brining hopes to eventually establish clubs in Vietnam and Burma to strengthen Lions’ ties and assistance to both countries. SERVICE WITH A SMILE Fun and fellowship go together with club membership; camaraderie promotes a sense of well-being and enjoyment as you help others. Digital LION Watch a slide show on Lions’ service in Vietnam at www.lionmagazine.org.
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