Song Contest for the Blind Is A Winner POLAND: Dressed stylishly in crisp white pants and a striped, black-and-white shirt, young Grazvydas Sidiniauskas of Lithuania sang plaintively of a girl he loves afraid to love him back. The up-tempo ballad, which he wrote himself, won over the crowd in Krakow–and the jury. The Lithuanian captured the first prize at the First Lions World Song Festival for the Blind last November. The four Lions clubs in Poland’s second-largest city sponsored the contest. Twenty-six singers from 10 nations including the United States performed original songs backed by the renowned Sinfonietta Cracovia, the city orchestra. Many of the performers, though amateurs, had solid musical credentials, having rigorously studied music in school or played in local festivals or even national competitions. Lions held the event not to uncover a hidden talent and propel an unknown into a musical career but to provide them with an unforgettable experience as well as to remind people of the capabilities and needs of those with vision impairments. The contestants visited a salt mine and Schindler’s Factory Museum (of “Schindler’s List” fame). Krakow in the last few years has “made some investments to be more friendly for disabled tourists,” says Lidia Jankowska of the Krakow Bona Sforza Lions Club. “The participants I talked to told me they felt like winners just because they came, met new people and exchanged thoughts and experiences. That was the real value for them.” Hometown Lions clubs sponsored the competitors. A jury selected the final 26 to come to Krakow out of a pool of 50 applicants. Performers ranged in age from 12 to the 50s. Among them were Anna Rossa of Poland, a music school graduate now working as a psychotherapist; Haraldur Hjalmarsson of Iceland, who fronts a band; and Hedlund Natalia of Sweden, a translator and published poet. The songs, written by the performers or for them for the contest, covered topics found on a typical CD–unrequited love, true love and the wonder of nature, friendship and God. Stepan Goncharenko of Ukraine sang “What is Love?” and Gigi Yanez-Hamberger of Bridgeport, Connecticut, belted out “Leap of Faith,” a stirring testament to “having faith even when you don’t know what the right choice is,” she says. The festival, which will be held again in November 2015, was the first time the clubs in Krakow had worked together on a major event. “It was confirmation that Lions can make really big things happen–much bigger than an individual club can do,” says Jankowski. For performers, the event forged lifetime memories. “I heard the orchestra playing my song. … This to me is the greatest reward,” says second-place winner Rossa. Getting a Grip on Icy Streets FINLAND: On the frozen streets of Finland people take a shine to shoes with ice grips, so Lions accommodate folks by setting up shop in a city market. Twenty-two members of the Turku Kupittaa Lions Club fit more than 100 pairs of shoes, most often boots, with grips. Walking actually grows more perilous in late winter as the snow and ice become less firm, so the club provided the service in mid-February. Several customers, eager to take advantage of the opportunity to improve their traction, purchased new shoes at the market before seeing the Lions. At times the lines were lengthy. But Finns don’t grouse much about the wintry weather or needing to overcome it. “Everyone was in a good mood, so it didn’t matter that people had to wait,” according to the Finland LION. Days of the Dolphin in Japan JAPAN: The dolphins may have appeared to be smiling, but the smiles on the faces of the children swimming with them were definitely real. A Lions club in Japan reserved a popular seaside dolphin attraction for a weekend so children with intellectual disabilities could interact with the friendly ocean mammal. A dozen children increasingly interacted with the dolphins for two days at Ito Harbor in Ito City. They began by learning how to communicate with the creatures. They listened to their distinctive whistles and squeaks while feeding them fish and “shaking hands” with them. On the second day, the children, many of whom normally are afraid of the water, donned wetsuits, plunged into the pool and held onto the dolphins’ fins as they sped around. The aptly named Chigasaki Ocean Lions Club sponsored the project. The 24-member club, chartered in 2006, was adhering to the theme of its then-president Makoto Hanada: “work together in services and have fun.” Party in Peru Is Worth the Walk PERU: Christmas meant an eager march of children for gifts and a festive, funny show in Trujillo, a coastal city of 800,000 in Peru. About 1,500 children from several villages, some walking for two hours, attended a Christmas party hosted by the Trujillo La Merced Lions Club. Lions gave the children clothes, shoes, sweet bread, chocolate milk, and, of course, toys. The mayor of the Sausal District worked with the Lions on publicizing the event. “For us it was an achievement to bring joy to these little ones living so far from the city,” says Lion Hugo Fernández Muñoz. “We wondered where did all these children come from? It was crazy. The appreciation they and their moms had was indescribable.” An ancient city known for its writers, Trujillo also is a hotbed of Lionism. It has 19 clubs with 495 members. Venezuelan Lions Improve Vision VENEZUELA: Many students at Andrés Bello School in Cagua, Venezuela, have never had an eye exam. So the 64-member Cagua Lions Club made a five-year commitment to hold screenings there and to provide glasses and surgical care, if needed. Last fall ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals screened 68 children in first and sixth grade. Lions partnered with the Aragua Regional Eye Center, the Aragua Eye Clinic and health workers in nearby La Victoria. Founded in 1620, Cagua is an industrial city with 130,000 people. After the Rains, Lions Assist Indonesians INDONESIA: Known as the Venice of the East, Jakarta in Indonesia suffers some of the same water woes as its Italian counterpart. Flooding is frequent for the coastal city because of poor drainage systems and deforestation. Monsoons can wreak havoc. Torrential rains in January killed 10 people and forced 100,000 from their homes. Lion in Jakarta carried out 15 humanitarian relief efforts over a two-week span. They provided food and assisted government workers in administering medical treatments. About 150 Lions helped 2,400 people, says Past District Governor Eveline N. Chandra.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Lions+on+Location/1658650/200967/article.html.