PHILIPPINES Medicine and Gifts Help Isolated Villagers Celebrate Media Noche In the early morning hours of November 30, 2017 members of the Legazpi City “Host” Lions Club trekked for 30 minutes through a downpour, over the single unpaved road, into the village of Mancao. They’d been traveling since before dawn, having gathered at the home of club president Noel Estillomo before setting out on pump boats across the Sula channel. Stacking boxes of medical supplies, slippers, sacks of rice, soap, and gifts between themselves and the doctor, dentist, and two nurses they’d recruited to accompany them, the Legazpi Lions hunkered down for the 90-minute boat ride. Situated on the northwest coast of Rapu-Rapu, Albay, in the Philippines, Mancao is a small, isolated village protected somewhat from the strong Pacific storms by a thick mangrove forest that grows along the shallow shoreline. However, it’s this remoteness that makes accessing basic necessities like food, soap, and medical care so difficult for the people of Mancao. “There’s not even a small public market where they can buy things they need for their daily lives,” says Lion Jose Briones, who participated in the mission. Instead, locals get what they need from “Sari-sari” stores—general stores that sell things like cookies, biscuits, oil, kerosene gas, soft drinks, and other small items, but no medicine. There are also no doctors in Mancao, and the long and costly sea travel to the mainland means many people don’t get the healthcare they need. When ill, people use herbal remedies and see “parahilot”—masseuses who practice the Filipino healing massage, Hilot. The Lions wanted to make sure their gifts could help the people of Mancao celebrate the traditionally long Filipino Christmas season. In addition to the medical supplies and other necessities, they brought gifts for media noche—the midnight feast on New Year’s Eve that symbolizes their hopes for prosperity in the coming year. In all, they gave gifts of slippers, soap, spaghetti noodles, tomato sauce, bread, 11 pounds of white rice, oil, and sausages in cans. At separate stations they (along with the accompanying medical professionals) performed dental and wellness exams, including a diabetes screening, and dispensed medicine for nearly seven hours before embarking on the long trek home. Despite the difficult conditions, Estillomo says the one-day project was, “An awesome and wonderful experience.” ENGLAND Wetherby Lions Throw Senior Party In January the Wetherby Lions hosted their annual “New Year” meal. A tradition for 40 years, Lions, their families, friends of Lions and other members of the community come together to serve a traditional hot Christmas dinner—complete with Yorkshire specialty dessert, Christmas cake and Wensleydale cheese—to the senior citizens and other isolated members of their community. Donations from local businesses are raffled off and given as Bingo prizes. Club President John Boulton is careful to use only local vendors, as supporting local companies has been a focus during his presidency. VIP guests include The Lord Mayor of Leeds, The Mayor of Wetherby, the local Member of Parliament Alec Shelbrooke and typically a well-known celebrity, such as ex-England and Yorkshire cricketer Ryan Sidebottom or Yorkshire T.V. presenter Christine Talbot. Local artists provide entertainment, dancing, and singing. “It really, really is a fantastic event which we feel encompasses everything to do with Lionism in its community,” says Boulton. “Another ripple effect has been that some of our guests have contacted us throughout the year asking for other forms of help, and we’ve also recruited new members from the event. So, a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone.”
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