ITALY Hotel Offers a Peak Experience Melvin Jones didn’t sleep here. But his spirit (of service) roams the rooms and halls of this elegant resort. Italian Lions helped fund the luxurious House-Hotel Lago Losetta Melvin Jones, whose balconies overlook snow-capped mountain ranges. More than half the people who stay here have a disability, and the resort offers skilled instructors and specialized equipment for people with disabilities to enjoy alpine skiing in the winter, buggy biking in the summer and other sports such as swimming, fishing and archery. People with disabilities enjoy the hotel year-round. The hotel is located in Sestriere, 11 miles from the French border. Ringing the hotel are the 8,862-foot Monte Fraiteve, the 10,761-foot Punta Rognosa di Sestriere, the 8,720-foot Monte Sises and the 9,350-foot Monte Motta. The setting is unmatched. Throughout the year, Lions clubs pay for stays at the hotel for a weekend, a week or longer. Clubs receive a 25 percent discount off regular prices. Fifteen years ago, for four years, clubs contributed three euros per member (today, $3.40) to help build the hotel, which is entirely accessible to those with disabilities. (Italy currently has 42,000 Lions.) In the last five years, more than 17,000 people with disabilities have stayed at the hotel. MALAYSIA Students Facing Exams Helped Students’ stress over national exams has made headlines in Malaysia. Students distressed about upcoming exams, key to career opportunities, have killed themselves by jumping off a balcony, dousing themselves with gasoline before lighting a match and hanging themselves. The Kuching Kota Samarahan Lions Club has eased the stress by sponsoring seminars prior to exams. The club offered assistance for students taking standardized tests in proficiency in Mandarin. In a press release, Lions said the learning session will help students feel they are not alone in their quest to advance their careers. INDIA Women Trained to Defend Themselves Women in Bhubaneswar, a city of 650,000, are learning martial arts to defend themselves against predatory men in classes taught by the police. The self-defense classes are sponsored by the Bhubaneswar Premium Lions Club. Violence against women has drawn increased attention in India. Chartered in August 2014, the Bhubaneswar Premium Lions Club has three women among its 24 members. Held at police stations, the three-week training classes will help shatter “the perception of women that they are weak and defenseless,” according to the club. The classes include strength training and boxing. An auctioneer takes bids for a stuffed emu at the Ashhurst-Pohangina Lions Club smallholders auction. SOUTH AFRICA Textile Workers’ Vision Studied Textile workers in South Africa such as machinists, cutters and button sewers perform close-up tasks that become more difficult as eyes age and vision declines. Yet a study done in the Durban area showed that 93 percent of people who reported difficulties in reading or seeing parts of objects near them lacked eyeglasses. An LCIF SightFirst project is studying the problem with the hope of showing workers the value of eye screenings and adequate vision, persuading employers that vision screenings and vision corrections at the workplace would increase productivity and convincing government leaders of the need to include eyeglasses as part of national health insurance. The project also aims to develop eye health materials such as pamphlets and posters. SightFirst approved a grant for $89,315 for the African Vision Research and the Brien Holden Vision Institute to examine the vision of 600 KwaZulu-Natal textile factory workers. The study will identify what workers suffer from vision problems, provide them with eyeglasses and then assess the change in their productivity. The decline in vision happens progressively to people as they age. The lens becomes less flexible, and near vision becomes blurred. The inevitable aging of the eye is called presbyopia. Anecdotal evidence exists that uncorrected vision decline decreases work productivity, but published evidence is lacking. According to the grant proposal, “For many, a simple pair of spectacles could significantly improve their lives and increase their full potential to perform everyday near-tasks, improve educational opportunities and increase their economic productivity.” NEW ZEALAND Where the Out-of-Ordinary is Commonplace The entrance fee is a $1 gold coin. The items for sale are just as quirky: piglets, calves, fencing wire, yachts, chairs, motorbikes, even kitchen sinks and vintage freezers. For 35 years, the Ashhurst-Pohangina Lions Club smallholders auction has catered to small landholders with something to sell and curious customers looking for a bargain. “Originally it was set up for people like me, who have a smallholding, to be able to sell their livestock—one or two sheep, a calf, chickens, whatever, because it wasn’t possible, at the time, to sell small numbers at the big auction places,” according to a local blogger who is a farmer. Last year the club raised $10,000 from sales and another $2,000 at the gate, which was designated for the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter. The auction is held at MacDonald’s farm in Pohangina Valley. In keeping with the offbeat flavor of the event, an office for the auction is set up in a scruffy woolshed. MOROCCO Everything But a Kitchen Sink A club in Casablanca pulled out all the stops in traveling from its city to serve villagers in a remote rural area. Members of the Casablanca Arc en Ciel Lions Club formed a “medical caravan” to provide diabetes screening and education and distribute medicine to people living in the Jakhma Berrechid region. But the Lions also handed out toys, clothes and sweets to 140 children, passed out clothes to 120 adults and gave pasta, sugar, oil and other food items to 20 families as well as holding creative workshops on drawing and singing for children. The effort was led by President Meriem Dahrat and 416 District Governor Salwa Abourizk.
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