YOUR GUIDE TO THE GREAT WORK WE’RE DOING AROUND THE WORLD Warm Food for Those Left Out in the Cold Nearly 20 years after the massive Kobe earthquake in Japan people left homeless continue to use a soup kitchen set up immediately after the disaster. Once a day the appetizing smell of curry cooked in a huge metallic bowl wafts over Minato-no-Mori Park, built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction. Volunteers often serve 120 hungry people within 15 minutes after the soup is ready. Members of the Kobe Minami Lions Clubs have supported the kitchen for eight years. They provide rice and serve the soup. The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, as it is known in Japan, killed 5,500 people and injured more than 26,000. Kobe, which has a population of 1.5 million, was near the quake’s epicenter. Respect and civility are part of the routine of the soup kitchen. Patrons dutifully wash the dishes and utensils they use and return them to their proper spot. Lions and other volunteers, who know the regulars, chat and trade small talk with them. Through the years the number of patrons has gradually declined. “The Kobe Minami Lions don’t mind providing service, but they are hoping the number of people needing this service becomes much smaller,” according to the Japanese LION. Care for Children Crosses Borders Tan Chee Bin, 60, taught English and geography in secondary schools in Malaysia and worked as a federal school inspector for a quarter century. After a lifetime of helping youths, he spends part of his retirement doing the same as a relatively new Lion. Members of his club recently travelled to Cambodia to bestow gifts and goods on disadvantaged children at a school, orphanage and hospital. “We were able to make a small difference in the lives of these needy and lovely Cambodian children,” says Bin, whose wife, Lee Kit Yoke, also is a Lion and retired teacher. “I think we were able to fulfill our club’s motto of ‘We Serve Without Borders.’” The Bayan Baru Lions Club has 39 members. Among them are businessmen, factory owners, insurance agents, lawyers, clerks and stay-at-home mothers. The club has undertaken similar charitable missions to Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The club partnered in Cambodia with the Siem Reap Angkor Wat Lions Club, chartered in 2012. Many Cambodian children endure heartbreaking hardship. Nearly half are malnourished, and one in seven dies before the age of five. The Lions club wisely worked with established charities with solid track records. They helped a Sanctuary Home for orphaned and abandoned children, run by The Children’s Sanctuary; the Chres Village School and Orphanage; and the Angkor Hospital for Children, founded by New York-based Friends Without A Border. “Our members put their heart and soul into our projects,” says Bin. “All of us returned home knowing we had brought cheers and relief to the suffering of poverty-stricken children.” Magic of Hogwarts Banishes Cancer The wands, spells and magic potions, even the wise, warm counsel of Dumbledore, could not make the cancer vanish. But 64 children were able to forget about their illness and lose themselves to the charms of fantasy at a Harry Potter camp in New Zealand. For five days the only element missing from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft was Harry Potter himself. On the campus of atmospheric Lindisfarne College in Hastings, the children went wizard shopping at Diagon Alley and bought pet owls, frogs and bats. They purchased wands at Olivander’s wand shop. They dressed in costumes, made potions (some deliciously edible) and learned sword fighting from members of a medieval society. Some grownups knew the Potter books as well as the children and strove to precisely recreate the oddities and realities of that fantasy world. As any Potter fan knows, the wizard doesn’t select the wand; the wand selects the wizard. The wand shop clerks managed to surreptitiously place stickers with the child’s name on the wand he or she had chosen moments before. The immersion in fantasy began the moment children arrived at Woodville Central Railway Station. There they found Platform Nine and Three Quarters and the Hogwarts Express, a venerable steam locomotive. The on-board treats included licorice wands, chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts’ every-flavored beans. “I can honestly say we pulled some real magic on that camp. Some of the things the kids did and saw–I’m sure they are still trying to work out how it happened,” says Fay Partington, an organizer of the Camp Quality NZ. Dozens of Lions volunteered at the camp, cooking, making potions and supervising activities. “It was a very enjoyable day out, but it was more than that. It was heart-wrenching,” says Lion Lionel Raven, whose son is a cancer survivor. “To see the bond between the children and their companions–it was something everyone should experience. The volunteers and staff were totally immersed in the children and what they wanted to do. It brought tears to my eyes. “One 10-year-old girl–she has only one leg–to see her clowning around. It was really something.” Lions and Music Form a Perfect Harmony Where Lions are, music erupts. (Clockwise from top left) Orimattila Lions in Finland brought along popular accordion player Jarmo Kuusisto to perform at a home for seniors. Lions also fired up a barbecue and led seniors in exercise. In Korea, Ulsan Hong Lions threw a party at the Hoge Senior Welfare Center. In Austria, the Sound of Music international youth exchange featured a stroll through tiny Gössl (450 residents) with the youths dressed in dirndls or lederhosen as musicians played traditional Austrian music. More than 60 youths from 20 nations participated. Also in Austria, Wien West Lions served weisswurst, pretzels, and, of course, beer at an Oktoberfest. Club President Dr. Walter Geyer showed he could wield more than a gavel or stethoscope as he played the saxophone and keyboards as well as sang. Bam! Pow! Lions! Holy costume extravaganza, Batman! The caped crusader and his young sidekick overran the town of Market Rasen in England. The Batman and Robin race, organized by the Market Rasen Lions, drew more than 100 runners masquerading as the famous Gotham City crime fighters. Thanks to Hollywood movies, Batman is popular in England. But the charity race actually was inspired by an episode from the English sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” in which the characters incongruously dressed up as Batman and Robin for a fancy party. The Lions’ event was called the Only Fools, No Horses Run. One team of runners stylishly arrived for the race in a Reliant Robin, a small, three-wheel car. After the race, which raised more than US$1,000, Lions awarded prizes for the best costumes. As for the competition, the Batmans and Robins came in all shapes and sizes, but savvy age generally still trumped youthful enthusiasm. “The Robins flew around the course, but as much as they tried they could not catch the Batmans,” reports Lion Graham Parish.
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