Eric Margules 2014-09-10 07:02:48
LCIF Grants Change Lives Schoolchildren in the remote village of Kyon in Burkina Faso squeeze into a small one-room hut that houses all the village’s classes and students. Growing attendance now has stretched the schoolhouse’s capacity to the point that some classes are even being held outdoors. This is set to change thanks to the Lions of District 403 A1, who will be constructing a new schoolhouse with expanded facilities to handle the larger number of students with the help of a $34,000 Standard grant from the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). The new schoolhouse, which will feature three classrooms, a teacher’s office and a storage room, is being designed and constructed locally with the support of the Lions Amitie Villages. A separate facility with lavatories will also be constructed nearby to provide further support for the students. Thanks to the activities of local Lions and the Standard grant from LCIF, an estimated 150 more children a year will be able to attend school in a safe, comfortable environment for the first time. While Lion activities in Burkina Faso exemplify LCIF’s mission to improve the lives of vulnerable populations around the globe, the scope of LCIF’s grants transcends geography and circumstance. With more than 70 grants totaling more than $3 million approved by the board of trustees in July 2014, Lions are finding more ways than ever to impact their communities. Disaster relief efforts such as those following a Category 5 cyclone in Tonga in January are another way LCIF changes lives. After Tropical Cyclone Ian struck Tonga’s outer Ha’apai islands, a state of emergency was declared. Nearly 1,200 buildings throughout the islands were damaged and about 2,300 people were left homeless. Power lines and electrical systems lay in tatters, and a contaminated water system meant the majority of Ha’apai residents were without fresh water. Following the destruction, local Lions sprang into action by mobilizing funds and procuring donations to install three new 10,000-liter water tanks to replace those lost during the storm. Building plans include a shelter to provide further protection for the tanks. With the assistance of a US$15,000 grant awarded by LCIF, Lions plan to finish construction soon. Since its inception in 1968, LCIF has been active in the realm of vision. So it was no surprise when LCIF approved a grant of $75,000 to expand the capabilities of the Social Center of Ophthalmology in Casablanca, Morocco, which serves only the poor and uninsured. The grant funds will allow the Lions-managed clinic to purchase the equipment necessary to diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy–an improvement desperately needed in Morocco, which is home to an estimated 600,000 people who will develop diabetic retinopathy during their lifetimes. Lions estimate that more than 2,500 patients will receive care and treatment for diabetic retinopathy. With these grants and many more approved already this year, it’s easy to see the impact Lions and LCIF are having around the world. Microenterprise Means Big Opportunities for Nepalese Entrepreneurs Charity is a virtue. At least for most people. While many think of charity as harmless acts of altruism and good intentions, Binod Chaudhary, a Nepalese businessman, philanthropist and founder of the Chaudhary Group Foundation, sees it as a stumbling block to philanthropy– a way to use money to make problems disappear without addressing the fundamental issues. But Chaudhary and the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) have a solution: microenterprise. At the 97th Lions Clubs International Convention, LCIF Chairperson Wayne Madden and the LCI executive officers signed a memorandum of understanding pledging US$200,000 to support the Chaudhary Group Foundation’s microenterprise pilot, Nepal Social Business. “We share a vision of a better world without poverty,” said Chaudhary, “where everybody has access to health service, education and employment, and where socially critical and green businesses promoted by bright and young ideas become self-sustainable enterprises.” The funds from LCIF, together with an existing US$1 million contribution from the Chaudhary Group, will help Nepal Social Business provide aspiring social business entrepreneurs with resources and training to build successful businesses (a process called incubation). Once developed, Chaudhary believes these businesses will spur growth in their local economies, making a positive impact on some of the most vulnerable regions and populations in the developing nation. As part of the initial pilot program, the Chaudhary Group Foundation selected six projects at various stages of development to receive support. Pilot projects range from eco-tourism development and environmental management, to educational centers and even an organic manufacturing cooperative, and all share a deep commitment to addressing social issues in their communities. “Our vision is to create 5,000 such businesses in Nepal within the next five years and thereby to change the lives of thousands of unemployed youth through the creation of social businesses,” said Chaudhary. “I'm truly privileged to sign this path-breaking agreement between Chaudhary Foundation and the Lions Club International Foundation.” Local Lions will be involved in Nepal Social Business projects at all levels of operation. From selection through incubation and eventual launch, Nepal Social Business will call on the local Lions’ depth of knowledge and experience to provide guidance and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. Whether as on-the-ground support–organizing facilities and acting as first contact for potential partners–as a part of specialized advisory boards, or even as coaches and mentors for entrepreneurs, Lions will be the heart and soul of a partnership that hopes to make the dreams of young Nepalese entrepreneurs a reality.
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