Ski Legends Partner with Lions ZIMBABWE–Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther are skiing royalty in Germany. She was a double gold medalist at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and he won six World Cup races. Married in 1980, their son, Felix Neureuther, is a World Cup ski racer for Germany. But it’s not the cold slopes of Europe but the hot plains of Zimbabwe where the couple now make their mark. They partner with Lions of Germany and Christopher Blindenmission, a nonprofit, to provide healthcare for the needy there. “If we can help, it’s the only logical thing to do. We’re at the age where we are more settled. We don’t need a vacation house in Majorca or whatever,” Mittermaier told the German LION. “We know this is 100 percent good, and the money gets to where it’s supposed to go.” Added Neureuther, “It doesn’t matter whether we’re in Africa or Nepal. In the end, it’s about supporting projects that allow you to give back and where you can trust that the money is being spent as promised. That’s the decisive factor. You need to have the confidence that no one’s trying to pull a fast one with the money that’s being donated–even if it’s 10 or 50 euros.” Cleanup Preserves Lake’s Luster JAPAN–Junior high students from Aizu-Wakamatsu with rakes and pitchforks descended on the beach of Lake Inawashiro, located in the Fukushima Prefecture. The fourth-largest lake in Japan, it’s admired for its clean water. “Heaven’s Mirror,” as it is affectionately known, often shows the glimmering reflection of majestically snow-capped Mt. Bandai. Yet the lake has been degraded by eutrophication– excessive plant and algae growth caused by industrial pollutants. The more than 100 students recruited by the Inawashiro Lions Club filled crate after crate with algae. “We never could have done a volunteer project on this scale with only the students,” a teacher told the Japanese LION. “We could not have provided the tools and equipment needed. This is huge victory not only for the lake but for their future as well.” The club had a prior connection with the junior high school through its sponsorship of the Peace Poster contest. “We learned a lot about volunteerism today,” a student told the Lions at the lake. Women Run the Show NEW ZEALAND–Two years ago Robyn Walker served as the 202 K district governor (DG). Christine Ford succeeded her, Marian Andrews serves as DG this year and Deidre Bridge will follow her. That’s right–four female governors in a row. New Zealand is relatively progressive: two women have served as prime minister and many large businesses are headed by women. Lions, on the other hand, are still playing catch up: just 29 percent of Lions in New Zealand are women. So what gives? The women come from strong Lions backgrounds, giving them a familiarity and ease with Lions. Strong leadership training also smoothed their way to the top. “Women have been encouraged to take on leadership roles. Attending training opportunities in the district has helped,” says Andrews, 68, whose husband, Keith, has been a Lion for 30 years. Ford, 50, a onetime Leo whose father was a Lion and mother a Lioness (and later a Lion) while she was growing up, attended leadership institutes as well. Walker, 57, a bank officer, joined Lions when invited by a work colleague in 2000. “Lions have great training programs in place to assist you in the direction you want to take,” she says. The partner of Bridge, 53, is a Lion, as was her late husband. She also attended leadership seminars. The women say their gender has little to do with their style of leadership. District leaders have a history of collaboration but “this is more related to having effective district plans in place rather than just because we are a team of women and this style of leadership can continue regardless of the gender of the DG,” says Bridge. How have male Lions reacted? “There have been some grumblings, but the standard answer even from the men is ‘If you’re not happy you need to put up your own hand for the role,’” says Bridge. “Some members still do not like having women in the organization, but mostly there has been only encouragement,” says Andrews. Gender has no role at all in the satisfaction the women receive from service. “I love being a Lion,” says Andrews. “I’ve had opportunities I never thought I’d have. Being able to help those in need is wonderful.” Swedes Aid Iraqis IRAQ–Swedish Lions sent 900 tents to northern Iraq to shelter refugees fleeing the violence of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Lions are working with the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency, part of the Ministry of Defense, on the project. Seema Panboon of the Skelleftea Lions Club traveled to Iraq to help distribute the tents. A former IT worker, he became a carpenter partly to be able to volunteer for humanitarian missions abroad. Liberian Clubs Fight Ebola LIBERIA–Four Lions clubs in Liberia are fighting the Ebola virus. The clubs have distributed disinfectants, soap, gloves, buckets and other preventative supplies to schools for the blind and deaf, a senior citizen’s home, a hospital and other facilities. The outbreak of the virus in Liberia began in March. At least 871 people have died there. The virus has claimed the lives of at least 2,100 people in five countries. “Not one blind person has fallen to the virus,” says Lion Anthony Wisseh. “All the places we went, providing awareness, food and non-food items– and if not for God–those places could have been affected.” The clubs involved are the Greater Monrovia, Monrovia Ducor, Greater Buchanan and the Cape Mesurado clubs. Davidetta Kotty, president of the Cape Mesurado club, told AllAfrica.com that the aid was Lions’ “own way of identifying with the visually impaired and other less fortunate Liberians.”
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