Your Guide To The Great Work We’re Doing Around The World French Senator Alain Gournac speaks at the Lions’ literary awards event at Luxembourg Palace. Looking on is Council Chairperson Francois Bertrand. French Lions Award National Writing Prize What brought French Lions together with power brokers, celebrated writers and book lovers in the ornate Napoleon room at the luxurious Luxembourg Palace? It was the 2012 Lions National Literature Prize. French Lions honored first-time novelist Chantal Foret for “Qui-vive,” her moving chronicle of two brothers grappling with their feelings toward their ailing elderly parents. Staunch supporters of the arts, French Lions “use their abilities to help others and develop many initiatives in the areas of academia, education and culture,” said Dominque Mallet, chairperson of the Lions’ Humanitarian Committee. The literary prize “is proof of our dedication to the cultural sphere and allows us to share our conception of humanism by promoting culture at the regional level throughout France,” she added. The Luxembourg Palace is where the French Senate meets, and Senator Alain Gournac praised his fellow Lions at the literary event. “You are participating in a reading campaign. You are providing assistance to the book publishing industry, and, not least importantly, you are helping an author,” he said. “This is not a humanitarian action; it is a humanistic one (in the Renaissance sense). I can only rejoice in the fact that I belong to a club which provides service to humankind in both its earthly and spiritual dimensions.” Traditional Treat Becomes a Lions’ Tradition Grittibänz, or bread men, are traditional pastries made by German bakeries in Switzerland for St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) and then throughout Advent. The Tösstal Lions Club gives the bakeries a run for their money with its own popular version of Grittibänz. Since 2004, the club has sold 35,000 Grittibänz. Members use a lightly sweetened brioche dough to satisfy the holiday cravings of German Swiss. Lions and their children make and sell the pastry at a local Christmas market. The sales fund the club’s charity. “An equally valuable result was the countless hours club members spent with their friends and family members–not to mention the countless bright eyes of the children who form their own Grittibänz and take them fresh from the oven,” according to the Switzerland LION. Club Ups the Ante at Anniversary For half a century Tongeren Lions of Belgium hit upon a simple formula: meaningful projects plus conviviality equal success and longevity as a club. To celebrate its anniversary members came up with another formula: 50 times 1,000. The club’s goal it to raise 1,000 euros for each year since its charter in 1963. The funds (a total of US$65,000) will benefit the club’s longtime cause, TEVONA, a home for adults with mental disabilities; a school for children with learning difficulties or behavioral disorders; a group that helps children with disabilities; and a research fund dedicated to new therapies for cancer. Lions kicked off their anniversary celebration with a concert and also published a colorful club history. The club has flourished because of its strong social component, says Koen Nulens. “Serving the community as a Lions club is one thing. But being with a group of friends is another,” says Nulens, a civil engineer who works as an investment manager. Members annually spend a fun weekend together, regularly attend other social outings and meet with its twinning club, Zwolle Zwollerkerspel Lions in the Netherlands. “Humor and the ability to relate to one another mean a lot to us,” he adds. Settled in 15 B.C., Tongeren is the oldest town of Belgium. The club’s oldest and most popular fundraiser hearkens back to the days of old: an equestrian weekend first held in 1982. The horses scamper and leap over barriers, and a huge circus tent accommodates bingo games. Tribe Helped Without Washing Its Hands of Its Past For centuries the isolated Karen tribe in the dense forests of Northern Thailand practiced a slash-and burn cultivation to grow crops like hill rice. In recent years some of the tribesmen also grew poppy to produce opium. With its own language and customs, the ruggedly independent mountain tribe sustained itself and its singular culture. Today the tribe is caught in between the modern world and its traditional ways. The Thai government has been eradicating poppy production and has encouraged the Karen tribe and other indigenous peoples to grow tea and coffee. Yet the forests, the source of the tribes’ food, clothing and medicine, are withering, and the government often pushes the tribes onto lower land and presses for their assimilation into mainstream society. The tribal peoples gained the rights of other citizens but lost their ways of life. Entrenched poverty took root. The difficulties of the mountain peoples have led Japanese Lions to undertake several initiatives in Northern Thailand including a clean water project near Chiang Rai City. New in Pakura Village are a well, a hefty water tank on a nine-meter tower and a renovated school with functional toilets, sinks and, finally, a roof and walls without gaping holes. “The walls were all shoddy. There were bird droppings on the floor. Some children had pink eye and diarrhea because of the dirty water,” says Japanese Lion Yoichi Hayakawa, who toured the site with other members of the Tokai Lions Club. The Tokai Lions teamed up with Chiang Rai Lions and LCIF on the $20,000 water project for the members of the Karen tribe in the village. Both the reservoir water and the river water, polluted with pesticides, were making villagers ill. The Lions tried to help without unduly changing the culture of villagers. “We always tried to be careful not to rearrange villagers’ lives by carelessly bringing foreign materials and people into the village,” says Japanese Lion Atsuro Takeuchi. Norwegian Lions Kick … It’s not been the butt of jokes that Lions in Norway are behind an anti-drug campaign. To persuade youths to not use drugs, Lions for nearly 40 years have commissioned films, held drug-free concerts, sponsored youth camps and funded drug-tracking dogs for police and custom officials. A more recent gambit is getting a woman’s handball team in Fredrikstadt to feature the Lions’ antidrug logo on its shorts. Two prominent professional soccer teams also display the tulip logo. Lions have used the logo since the early 1980s, and it’s now a well-known symbol in Norway. A sturdy red tulip faces up, signifying the result of good choices in lifestyle, and a drooping gray tulip symbolizes the effects of drug abuse. The tulip logo is appropriate for another reason: Lions have sold tulips since 1982 as a major fundraiser. In 2012 alone the sale raised more than US$2 million. Some of the funds go to Lions Quest, which has a strong anti-drug component.
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