Jay Copp 2015-05-14 10:13:45
Lions Ease Terrible Suffering of War Refugees A Lion from Norway, Einar Lyngar encounters abject misery among shivering Syrian war refugees in crude, crowded camps in a mountainous region in Lebanon. Living in a makeshift hut, a sleep-deprived grandmother looked after her two disabled grandchildren. Their parents died in a bombing in Aleppo. “I do not want to live anymore,” she told Lyngar, who escorts deliveries of relief supplies from Norwegian Lions. A father who lost his leg told Lyngar his children were starving and one son, wounded in the war, was in so much pain he could not sleep. Mothers who see Lyngar arrive run toward him with outstretched arms. “I am ashamed to do this. The war makes us beggars,” one mother told him. “I had a good job and nice home. Now my life and family is in ruins, and we have no future.” Lyngar gave a winter coat, shoes and wools socks and a sweater to a boy about 10. “He stretched out his hands and gave me a wet kiss on the cheek and a long hug,” says Lyngar, a retired journalist and a Ringsaker Lion since 1974. Partnering with Lebanese Lions, Norwegian Lions have delivered 14 truckloads of clothing for refugees— enough for 60,000 children, says Lyngar. Food and medicine are sparse in the camps. Many children walk barefoot in the snow. The huts, often framed with plastic or tarp with soil floors covered by a blanket, are unbearably cold. “On Twitter I saw pictures of three children in Arsal [camp] who died of the cold before we could get our clothing there,” says Lyngar. Led by the Ringsaker and Skudeneshavn Lions Clubs, about 100 Lions clubs and 1,000 Lions in Norway have aided the refugees. They and Lebanese Lions also have provided school supplies to begin several schools in the camps. Amine Hacha, president of the Beirut Downtown Lions Club, says the school-in-a-box kit they gave to refugee children was inspired by a similar learning tool he discovered at the Lions Day at the United Nations. Nearly 120,000 refugees are in camps scattered in or near Arsal, located close to the Syrian border. Complicating the relief—and making it dangerous—is the nearby military activity of the Islamic State.“It’s dangerous. We’re maybe less than a mile from the war zone,” says Hacha. “Only myself and Einar are with the trucks distributing the goods—we don’t want others in the unsafe area.” Syrian planes drop bombs, and 10 Lebanese soldiers were killed in Arsal the day of a Lions’ delivery, says Lyngar. Lebanese Lions have good relationships with government officials, who help facilitate aid. Lebanese assist Lions in navigating the uncertain roads and getting the trucks through guarded checkpoints. One Arsal man who helped Lyngar “gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek when I first met him,” he says. Lyngar and Norwegian Lions often rush to help disaster victims or ease great hardship. They treated children who survived the Dubrovka Theater hostage crisis in Moscow to a relaxing holiday, established a cancer center for children after the Chernobyl nuclear accident and organize a Christmas delivery of goods for African children. His trips to Lebanon make his wife and children particularly uneasy. The Islamic State has taken Westerners hostage and beheaded them. Lyngar happens often to wear orange clothes. “The security is not good in the camps. My family does not like to see me in orange,” he says.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Dangerous+Mission/2007940/258674/article.html.