Club Has International Flair HUNGARY: The backpacks come from Germany, the students who get them live in Hungary and the motivation behind the service can be partly traced to people without a country, the Roma (known as Gypsies). The Budapest Thomas Mann Lions Club annually stuffs 70 or 80 backpacks with school supplies and books and presents them to disadvantaged children in or near the capital of Hungary. The German- speaking club has ties to Germany, from which the gently used satchels are secured. The club secretary is Erzsebt Cseh, whose mother and grandmother set an example of service by giving food and clothes to a needy Roma family when Cseh was a child in Hungary. As a schoolgirl Cseh tended the garden at a home for seniors and read to the residents. After finishing school, volunteering became decidedly less appealing when she moved to Kiev in the former Soviet Union. She was required to do unpaid work on weekends including cleaning dormitory rooms that were not dirty and scrubbing a statue called Rodina Mat (mother of the homeland). A Lion since 2008, volunteering is once again a joy for Cseh, a language teacher. “Volunteer work is a pleasure,” she told the Budapest Times. Among the recipients of backpacks this past year were students whose baby sister died of eye cancer. “We’re a small club with just 10 active members,” says Dieter Usseler. “We count on friends and especially our family.” Populace Takes the Bait DENMARK: Fishing is the lifeblood of Frederikshavn, a small coastal city in Denmark, so Lions stage an annual party at the harbor they call the Fishing Festival. Patrons eat fresh fish, buy fish to take home, bump and bounce on jet skis, clamber aboard a Naval vessel and, if bold enough, endure a wavy, speed ride on one of the vessel’s doughy inflatable rafts. Last year festival-goers also heard a fish tale– no, not an outrageous fabrication but a real literary story told by an experienced storyteller. Snow-bearded Karsten “Kortbuks” Hansen, who made a grand entrance by scooping his dog out of his car trunk, regaled listeners with “A Fisherman’s Wife” by the Brothers Grimm. He ended his story with a plea: “eat more fish.” The funds raised support the good works of the 31 members of the Frederikshavn Bannerslund Lions Club. The fun had at the festival almost surely ensures a repeat next year. Or as the Danish LION put it, “the festival was closed at 16:00 with the wish of a reunion next year.” English Lions Do It Batter ENGLAND: In the United States, Lions flip pancakes and then sell them. In England, Lions and others flip them but also dash through the streets while doing so. Call the difference a flip-flop of sorts. The Rugby Rokeby Lions Club holds an annual pancake race in the town center. Contestants not only race while tossing a pancake in a pan but also do it while wearing an outlandish costume. Men typically cross dress. The pancake race is held on Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Ash Wednesday. In many countries Shrove Tuesday is also called Pancake Day because pancakes are eaten that day. The Rugby Lions have run their race for about 35 years. The race in Rugby favors sprinters: the course down Sheep Street is only 100 meters. The pancake must be tossed once during the race. “Holding down the pancake by fingers or thumbs could lead to disqualification,” according to the official rules. But the spirit of the law is more lenient than the letter. “They are very flexible rules that are very liberally enforced,” says Lion Terry Byrne, the race organizer. Contestants bring their own frying pans, which must be at least seven inches in diameter. A national lemon juice manufacturer provides the pancakes–entirely inedible plastic spheres. The real ones with flour and milk bit the dust a few years ago because, well, they literally ended up in the dust. “We had problems when it was windy. The pancakes were so light they’d end up in the street when tossed,” says Byrne. The 28 runners this year raised 1,600 pounds (US$2,700) from sponsors. Meningitis sufferer Liam Corbett and his family were the beneficiaries. Corbett, a 36-year-old chef with two small children, endured two weeks in an induced coma, two months in the hospital and 14 operations. He lost his right hand, toes, part of his nose and much of his hearing. The goal is to purchase for him a vehicle with a trailer to help him revive his barbecue business. At least the race went off without a hitch. Two months of constant rain pounded Rugby before Shrove Tuesday, but that morning the skies cleared. “The day was a beautiful sunny one,” says Byrne. Diabetes Targeted in Tanzania TANZANIA: Diabetes is growing in Tanzania as the African nation embraces a Westernized lifestyle. Yet most Tanzanians know little about it. “The average person is not aware of the disease,” says Bhavin Sonigra, secretary of the Dar es Salaam Mzizima Lions Club. His club recently held a diabetes camp at a primary school in Kigogo in the Dar es Salaam region. More than a dozen volunteer medical professionals recruited by Lions tested and counseled 249 people. Those with diabetes or borderline diabetic were referred to a diabetic clinic. The school was chosen as the camp site because people knew its location, but the testing primarily was done inside a modern and well-equipped mobile van of the Tanzania Diabetic Association. The Lions served people who otherwise mostly likely would not have received any care at all. “People don’t have access to health care, mostly due to the cost,” says Sonigra. Lions being Lions, patients also had their vision screened, and Lions saw to it that 49 people received glasses. Support of a Good Cause is Not a Bust NEW ZEALAND: An all-women Lions club in New Zealand held a project close to their hearts–literally as well as figuratively, so to speak–a bra decorating competition. The Bra Artz competition of the Palmerston North Heartland Lions Club raised funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. The club displayed 89 bras, which sported a wide range of colors, fabrics and add-ons and accessories. A vote required a $1 donation. The club raised $1,441 (US$1,180) and lots of chuckles and grins. The top bra won the “Breast in Show” award. “We did it because it was breast cancer awareness month. We all have had experience with someone close to us having breast cancer,” Yvonne McEwen, president, told a local newspaper. “I can say it was the most fun I’ve ever had doing a Lions project.”
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