Eric Margules 2015-08-12 23:42:45
Lions in Nigeria Aid Cancer Patients One morning, as administrator Stella Agbogun made her rounds in the Radiotherapy Department at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in Nigeria, she happened upon a young man comforting his weeping mother in the hallway. They had traveled to Lagos from Cross River, a Nigerian state more than 400 miles away, so the woman could receive cancer treatment at LUTH. But without any money or relatives in Lagos, the pair had nowhere to stay. They were desperate and completely alone. Agbogun, a Lion, knew something had to be done to help the family and those like them—who travel from far and wide for access to LUTH’s Radiotherapy Department but lack the resources to secure housing for themselves during treatment. “They had nowhere to sleep,” says Agbogun. “They had no relations in Lagos, and they did not have enough money for their accommodation. I was moved by pity. After that incident, I made the decision to be a positive change, to create a better living environment for cancer patients.” Agbogun, District 404 B governor then, saw an opportunity to serve her community and improve the lives of vulnerable individuals. She collaborated with LUTH and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) to develop plans for Mercy Home, a housing facility for cancer patients at the hospital. Agbogun worked both with the LUTH management team to finalize details and secure the space for Mercy Home and with Lion leaders to complete the project. With plans for 20 beds, Mercy Home would offer temporary accommodation for radiotherapy patients and their relatives who cannot afford accommodations in Lagos. With the help of a US$75,000 Standard grant from LCIF, arrangements for the construction of Mercy Home were put in place. On a rainy day in July, behind the Radiotherapy Department at LUTH, Lions and local dignitaries gathered to break ground on the special facility that was years in the making. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Professor Akin Osibogun, the chief medical Director of LUTH, elatedly described how honored the hospital was to commission Mercy Home. The facility was a dream realized. “LUTH’s management team sealed the entire deal by giving us this space, where Mercy Home stands,” Agbogun said at the ceremony. “They gave us easy access to the institution and were ready to render assistance and encouragement.” Mercy Home now stands as a symbol of hope to people in some of the darkest times of their lives, as well as a reminder that wherever a need arises in the community, Lions will find a way to meet the challenge. For information on Standard grants and how your Lions club can apply, visit lcif.org. Fostering Literacy Among Children in Egypt Ancient Egyptians knew that writing and literacy were essential to society. Cultures that came much later pay tribute to their progress in written language: the word “paper” derives from the Egyptian word “papyrus.” But reading skills in the average Egyptian home today are substandard. Nearly nine in 10 Egyptian parents read only schoolbooks with their children, according to the Information and Decision Support Center in Egypt. Parents lack confidence in their own reading skills or simply do not appreciate the importance of critical reading to the development of language skills. The Lions of Egypt, in partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Om Habibeh Foundation (OHF), are working to foster literacy in children in Aswan. Combining OHF’s academic expertise with the financial support of a US$35,000 Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Standard grant, local Lions launched a “Reading for Children” project. The goal is to increase children’s access to books, improve parents’ capacity to support their children’s learning, strengthen interactions between children and parents and reinforce primary literacy skills. Once local facilitators were trained, the process of equipping libraries within those community-based organizations began. To increase children’s access to books, OHF purchased a variety of books and interactive games. These organizations now host an extensive collection of books and early childhood development materials. OHF also provided child-accessible bookshelves and an assortment of arts and crafts supplies. Facilitators also conducted home visits that provided mothers with a safe place to engage their children and take an active role in their children’s education. Facilitators explained the importance of reading to children and gave creative suggestions on using daily activities to enrich children’s language development. OHF also hosted several reading camps during school breaks. Nearly 280 children participated, taking part in storytelling and educational activities. At the end of each camp, the children and facilitators marched through the streets, holding signs and distributing flyers to promote the importance of literacy. These marches contributed to a sense of community and increased awareness of the project. In one year, the Reading for Children project positively impacted more than 900 mothers and more than 2,500 children throughout Aswan. The participating community-based organizations became safe, attractive spaces for mothers to interact with their children. The reading and play sessions not only increased language development for the participating children but also expanded mothers’ ability to participate in that development. The local Lions and their partners are making great progress fostering literacy in Egypt.
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