Lions Ease Burdens of Pilgrims Lions in Nepal give new meaning to “roadside assistance.” Members of a club in Kathmandu set up a health camp at the midpoint of a grueling one-day, 40-mile, barefooted religious walk in which 100,000 pilgrims visit 131 shrines and temples. One of the world’s largest religious walks, the Dipankha Yatra dates from the 17th century. It is observed when five astrological events coincide on the same day: a full moon, a lunar eclipse, the first day in the solar calendar and the Rewati Nachetra and Harshan Yoga, two astrological events. The walk occurred in October 2013 and in 2005 before that. Both Hindus and Buddhists do the walk and visit each other’s shrines. “This is very important to maintain peace and solidarity in our country,” says Binaya Ratna Shakya, secretary of the Kathmandu Samriddhi Lions Club. A walker told a Nepalese newspaper, “We believe we will get blessings from God.” Partnering with the Red Cross, 17 Lions provided first aid, foot massages and water to walkers for eight hours. Chartered last July, the club also organizes blood donations, distributes wheelchairs, sponsors cataract surgeries and will establish a library. All-Couples Club Thrives in Jordan International President Barry Palmer has a dream of a Lions membership with an equal number of men and women. A club in tiny Jordan already exemplifies that goal. The Amman Rabbet Amoun Lions Club is an all-couples club. Eight sets of husbands and wives comprise the club. The club has been as an all-couples club since it chartered in 2009. The family bonds “add to the cohesion of the club,” says Gaby Haddad, a retired aeronautical engineer for the Royal Jordanian Airlines who attended college in the United States. The couples attend the club activities together and tend to agree on club matters, he adds. The members range in age from 37 to 72. Randa Akra, Haddad’s wife, is a retired social worker. Other members include a banker, contractor, businessman, teacher and housewife. The club does a wide array of service: distributing jackets and school bags to schoolchildren and food to the poor and orphans, supporting Mother Teresa centers for the elderly and disabled, providing dental care, planting trees, holding medical and cultural lectures and promoting organ donations. Its service projects are funded by donations from members and their families and friends as well as fundraisers such as dinner parties. Jordan has 13 Lions clubs with 291 members. One of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Amman is the capital and most populous city with 1 million residents. The Ultimate Donation: Legos Lions in Estonia provided a mini-bus to an orphanage, renovated its rooms, bought furniture, replaced a lawn mower and even donated bicycles. But what really delighted the children were the two pallets of Lego sets given to them. The donation came about because of a chance meeting between the club’s vice president and a Lion from Denmark, where the Lego company is based, at breakfast at a hotel in Hamburg, where the two Lions were last July for the international convention. Simo Mark, vice president of the Tallinn EEST-I Lions Club, says the children, who have few toys, spend countless hours with the Legos. “The feedback from the orphanages has been very good as Legos are really developmental toys. I was told that even children with big difficulty in concentrating can play with the Legos for hours,” says Mark. His club has supported the Tudulinna orphanage in eastern Estonia and its 22 children since 2011. The region suffers from high unemployment and myriad social problems. Many of the children’s parents are actually alive, but they ended up in the home because of their parents’ addiction to drugs or alcohol. The bus enables orphanage staff to take the children to doctors, psychologists, school and summer camps. The Lions pay for many of these activities. The Lions use their business connections to help the children. Toomas Sarelaid, second vice president and manager of a car dealership, called a supplier of his company when he discovered the home’s lawn mower was broken. “Of course, they wanted to help, and the orphanage got an absolutely new and powerful one for free,” says Mark, who owns three companies with his wife. “Toomas took his car, drove 120 kilometers and after two and half hours delivered the new lawnmower. Done. No big fuss. That’s the spirit of our club.” Mark’s chance encounter with Past District Governor Jimmy Nonbo of Denmark led to the donation through LEGO Charity, which gave away more than 55,000 sets or boxes of Legos in 2012. “It helped that I can speak Swedish and understand a bit of Danish. Danes understand Swedish,” says Mark. Lions Stunned by Record Donation An astute businessman who parlayed $610 in savings into a retail empire in Australia and then launched a dashing career as an adventurer and national figure has donated $1 million (US$950,000) to Lions. Dick Smith, who co-founded Dick Smith Electronics, donated the funds to the Australian Lions Foundation. The money is being used for the foundation’s compassionate grants program, which helps everyday Australians who may need urgent medical treatment or otherwise face a family crisis. Smith was named Australian of the Year in 1986. Australians admire his business sense, daring and outspokenness. His success began in 1968 when he and his fiancée, Pip, whom he married a few months later, built a retail electronics business. They sold it to Woolworths for more than $20 million in 1982. The windfall underwrote years of adventuring and enabled him to pursue his love of the outdoors. He flew a helicopter around the world, becoming the first solo pilot to do so, and founded Australian Geographic magazine with Pip. Smith is a fierce environmentalist. Those who disagree with him often still admire his candor. “Dick, thanks for telling it how it is,” he hears. His philanthropy also endears him to others. Inspired by actor Paul Newman and his food company, Smith formed Dick Smith Foods. All profits go to charity. The donation was the largest ever received by the Australian Lions Foundation, which normally raises $1.4 million annually. Donating to Lions was an easy choice for Smith. Pip’s father, Peter McManamey, was a Lion for 30 years and once served as a district governor. After the donation, Smith spoke at the Lions’ national convention in Canberra. He devoted most of the speech to criticizing Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch for not donating enough to charity. He closed with thanks to Lions for “the way you roll up your sleeves and help others. To use a unique Australian expression, ‘I dips me lid’ to all of you.” Project Warms the Heart–and Body Nearly every Finn loves the cleansing warmth of a sauna. That includes those with disabilities. So to celebrate its 50th anniversary the Oulu Sillat Lions Club built a first-rate, freestanding sauna to accommodate those with special needs. The 25-member club spent nearly US$40,000 on the unusual sauna, which has a ramp on the outside and three interior levels without steps. Family Day Helps Other Families Two Lions clubs in Switzerland gave parents of younger children a welcome respite from their parental duties with an action-packed Family Day. Aarau and Aarau Kettenbrucke Lions read to children, held balloon and painting competitions and served refreshments. Lions accepted donations from grateful parents for a charity that operates specially modified wheelchair-friendly minibuses.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Lions+on+Location/1631890/196664/article.html.