Smooth Sailing at Last After Theft NEW ZEALAND: Crime doesn’t pay? It did for a Lions club in a New Zealand beach town. Blockhouse Bay-Lynfield Lions anchored a boat which displayed Lions logos on its bow and stern at a busy traffic roundabout. The boat, dubbed the “Pride of the Bay,” was the club’s contribution to an association of local groups promoting the nautical character of Blockhouse Bay. (Lynfield borders Blockhouse Bay, and both are suburbs of Auckland City.) In its 37 years, the active club has held carnivals, fun runs and sausage sizzles, donated rescue equipment to the Coast Guard, beds for muscular dystrophy patients and wheelchair lifts for the disabled, and served hands-on by chopping firewood, bagging coal and weeding the yards of senior citizens. The boat was a nifty branding tool. Its image was part of the club’s stationery, website and signage. The Lions weren’t born yesterday. They cut a hole in the bottom of the boat and chained it to a tree to preclude a prank. Alas, the precautions proved to be insufficient. The boat disappeared. That’s when Lions turned misfortune into good fortune. “We garnered quite a bit of publicity,” says Alan Gray, secretary. “I immediately emailed an SOS to papers, radio stations and every contact we had in our address book.” No one stepped forward, but the boat reappeared within 24 hours. A young man reported that he had awoken to find it on his front lawn. “He said he would get his mates to bring it back to the roundabout,” recounts Gray, who has his suspicions about who the culprit was. Would-be thieves now would have to possess supernatural strength. The boat, back at the roundabout, is filled with soil and flowers. Digital LION Zany New Zealanders celebrate the 50th anniversary of their club in style. Watch the amusing video at www.lionmagazine.org. Club Finds Its Niche AUSTRALIA: Yanco has no stop lights, and its one commercial street has a pub, a club, a hairdresser, a school and a small grocery store that doubles as a post office. “That’s about it,” says Sue Parker, one of Yanco’s 572 residents. But it’s not so small that it doesn’t have a Lions club. The 13-member Yanco Lions Club holds an annual garage sale and ham raffle and uses its homemade van to cater sports and music events, sales and private parties. Yanco is small enough that everyone knows everyone else but not so small that a service club can’t make a difference. “Our role is to raise money for people that may be struggling and need a little help,” says Parker, secretary. The club in New South Wales was bolstered recently by two new members. The nearest Lions club is in Leeton, five kilometers away. The next closest club is in Narandera, a distance of 25 kilometers. People in Yanco are hardy, self-sufficient and accustomed to close encounters with wildlife: kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and snakes often hop, amble or slither into town. The club is a way for residents to not only help others but also to feel more at home in town. “Our meeting nights are filled with jokes and laughter,” says Parker. Digital LION Australian Lions craft a powerful public service ad warning of the dangers of drugs. Watch the video at www.lionmagazine.org. Education Rises After Era of Terror CAMBODIA: Boys who enter the new library of Trakiet Elementary School drop a straw into a plastic container designated for their grade. Girls leave a clam shell. A quaint, practical way to track the usage of the library, the containers often are filled. Children who once ran outside during break times now race to the library to read. The school is located in a small farming village 33 kilometers from Angkor Wat, the Buddhist temple that is the world’s largest religious monument. The farmers are less than two generations removed from the reign of terror of the Khmer Rouge in which intellectuals, teachers and educated people were considered enemies of the state and murdered. The school system in Cambodia is still recovering. The lack of schools means students are limited either to a morning or afternoon session. Teachers must take side jobs because of the low pay. School is free for nine years, but many children drop out to work to support their family or to take care of younger siblings while parents work menial jobs. Members of the Kota Lions Club in Japan first visited the small village where Trakiet School is while on a fact-finding tour of Cambodia in 2008. The club wanted to help Cambodians as other clubs in Japan were. Standing alone in a rice field, the decrepit wooden school had two classrooms for 500 children. The banana-leaf roof was no match for heavy rains, and the school often was flooded and shut down. The club raised funds and secured LCIF Standard Grants to build a new school and later a library. Villagers were so inspired by the cleanliness and sturdiness of the new school as well as by the increased attendance and learning that they banded together to build a middle school next to the elementary school. In the last decade, clubs in Japan have completed 38 LCIF education related grant projects in Cambodia. Like the buried mines that continue to claim limbs and lives, the wounds inflicted on Cambodian society and its schools remain real and life-altering. But Kota Lions first recognized the transcendent value of education while touring India in 2005. Tomio Yamamoto, past club president, was “deeply moved to see the children’s love of learning in spite of their poverty,” he told the Japanese LION. He felt the same way when he witnessed the dedication of Trakiet School. “We were welcomed by the unclouded, shiny eyes of children. We gain energy from every time we visit,” he says. Lions who return periodically to the school bearing school supplies marvel not only at the avidity for learning but also its sheer loudness. School libraries in Japan are hushed–not so at all in Cambodia. The noise does not impede reading. The students “don’t seem to care. They have their noses buried in the books,” says the Japanese LION. Moms Get a Day DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Moms and moms-to-be in Lagunas de Nisibón enjoyed a shower of sorts: they received a slew of baby care products and toiletries. Even better, a wide range of health care specialists treated them. More than 450 women attended the Medical Day organized by several Lions clubs in District R 1. Their free maternity cases included sheets, mosquito nets, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, soaps, shampoo, cologne, brushes, combs and shoes. Six mobile medical units sponsored by the Ministry of Public Health and assisted by Lions provided medical care. Specialists from gynecology, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology and dentistry attended to the women.
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