Lion March 2013 : Page 16

Four Ways LCIF is Terrific at Transforming Lives

Fabulous Foundation

Four Ways LCIF is Terrific at Transforming Lives

Rangita Harjan, a 10-year-old from India, knew her father’s voice as soon as he entered a room: deep-timbered but warm and rich. She knew his touch–firm but reassuring. She even knew his smell–like the outdoors or the trees, fresh and strong. But she had never seen him and had no idea whether he was short or tall, handsome or plain, a smiling presence or a dour visage.

When her bandages were removed after cataract surgery, he stood before her. She thought he looked like a prince.

“I saw my father for the first time, and I was very happy,” said Rangita, following the surgery in Nepal.

Her doctor noted that Rangita should have had surgery for her congenital cataract when she was much younger, but her family was unable to pay for such an expensive procedure. Thanks to Lions, and a grant through LCIF and Bausch + Lomb’s Pediatric Cataract Initiative, Rangita received the surgeries she needed and essential follow-up care.

Saving sight is one way among many that Lions Clubs International Foundation transforms lives. LCIF enables Lions to make a great impact in the world through their service and generosity. LCIF accomplishes its mission by providing grants in four focus areas–supporting youth, providing disaster relief, saving sight and meeting humanitarian needs such as curbing measles. Following are stories of how Lions helped people worldwide last year, culled from the recent 2011-12 LCIF Annual Report. (The full report is available online at

These are stories about people in need who were helped. But these also are stories about Lions, who support LCIF and make possible the transformations in people’s lives. Lions, partners and friends donated $43.4 million to the Foundation in 2011-12, allowing it to serve more than 200 million people.

1. Saving Sight

Since 1925, when Helen Keller challenged Lions Clubs International to be Knights of the Blind, Lions have saved and preserved sight. Last fiscal year, Lions Clubs International signed a new cooperative agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to aid global efforts in fighting unnecessary blindness and tackling newly emerging threats to vision from diabetes and other conditions through LCIF’s SightFirst program. The Lions-WHO Project for the Elimination of Avoidable Childhood Blindness is developing 26 child-friendly Lions eye care centers in lesser developed nations.

“The Lions can take much credit for helping the world make advances against many conditions causing blindness thanks to the support they have provided WHO and their own actions to support cataract surgery and to combat communicable diseases that have traditionally caused most blindness,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization. “We are delighted to be expanding our long-standing collaboration with the Lions in this regard."

LCIF has helped millions through SightFirst. The Sight- First program funds high-quality, sustainable projects that deliver eye care services, develop infrastructure, train personnel and/or provide rehabilitation and education in underserved communities. Main areas of concern include: cataract, river blindness, trachoma, uncorrected refractive error and, especially in developed nations such as the United States, diabetic eye diseases and glaucoma. Lions have mobilized more than $415 million to fund SightFirst and save sight around the world.

SightFirst is particularly active in China. SightFirst China Action, a partnership with the People’s Republic of China and the China Disabled Persons' Federation, is one of LCIF’s largest and most successful programs. Lions expanded on this partnership by launching phase three of SightFirst China Action during Lions World Sight Day in Shenzhen, China, in 2011. On that day a plan was unveiled to increase low vision services and eliminate trachoma in China by 2020. Additionally, LCIF provided SightFirst funds to develop a regional training program model and strengthen eye care linkages.

Lions continue to target the leading causes of blindness and begin projects to address new and emerging threats to sight.

2. Protecting Millions from Measles

Measles is a preventable disease that still claims the lives of hundreds of children a day worldwide. Helping immunize millions of children in his country against measles has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, according to Nepalese Lion Sanjay Khetan. “To be part of an initiative which will save the lives of so many children gives you immense satisfaction. Your life has some cause,” he says.

Medical complications from measles include brain swelling, severe diarrhea and blindness. The World Health Organization estimated in 2004 that 100,000 children become blind each year following measles. Those who are malnourished are most susceptible to measles-related eye issues and blindness since they are typically deficient in Vitamin A, essential for the eyes and other critical organs.

In October 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked LCIF to help eliminate measles by challenging Lions to raise $10 million for measles vaccination campaigns and routine immunizations. The Gates Foundation promised to match every $2 Lions raised with $1 if the goal was met. The goal was met in October 2012.

Lions’ efforts did not stop there. They also supported the Measles & Rubella Initiative, a coalition of global health leaders that organized and conducted measles vaccination campaigns in more than 30 countries. Local Lions provided valuable social mobilization before and during campaigns to ensure the target number of vaccinations were met, attended campaign launches and volunteered at vaccination centers to assist medical professionals.

By focusing on providing measles immunizations through vaccination campaigns, Lions helped protect 157 million children from measles in 2012.

3. Partnerships for Youth

The Foundation’s Lions Quest program changes the lives of young people worldwide by teaching them life skills. In India, Sunidhi Raje sees the positive change in herself since Lions Quest became part of her school’s curriculum. “This program has helped me to understand adolescence better and to tackle problems faced by young people like me,” she says. “The life skills we’ve developed are very necessary apart from just the knowledge that we get from our books.”

The school’s head mistress, Manasi Muley, says her students have developed positive social behavior and attitudes, learned essential skills and committed to leading healthy and drug-free lives.

Lions Quest’s three age-appropriate curricula are tailored for elementary, middle and high school students. Educators attend training workshops to learn how best to teach the curriculum, translated into 35 languages by the end of the fiscal year. Many organizations have affirmed that Lions Quest, active in 73 nations at the end of the fiscal year, effectively teaches life skills related to character education, service-learning, bullying and substance abuse prevention.

A partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is helping young people in south- eastern Europe live healthier and more responsible lives through Lions Quest. LCIF provided a $100,000 grant for the translation and adaptation of Lions Quest materials for Serbia and Montenegro, and LCIF will work with the UNODC to implement family skills training programs to help prevent drug use, HIV/AIDS, crime and delinquency.

The Foundation also is able to bring Lions Quest to 30,000 students in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda with the assistance of $150,000 from the U.S. State Department. Lions Quest training workshops in each of the five African countries trained 750 teachers, who are focusing on drug and alcohol prevention.

4. Helping Disaster Victims

Year after year, Lions rise to the challenge when disaster strikes in the world. Even when they and their families are among the victims, Lions can often be found tending to the needs of their neighbors before their own. Lions have volunteered millions of hours to help with tragedies at hand and to assist with long-term recovery for past disasters.

Helping people and communities regain normalcy following a disaster can be a long-term process. In Haiti, Lions and LCIF remain committed to helping the victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The earthquake severely damaged a nursing school; 100 students and teachers were killed. Even before the earthquake, Haiti suffered from a lack of trained healthcare professionals, especially nurses. After the disaster, more than 300 students had to attend classes in makeshift rooms and alternative locations. Completed in 2011, the new National Nursing School of Port-au-Prince includes four classrooms and a laboratory. Three hundred-fifty students will study here annually. In partnership with HumaniTerra International, LCIF provided a grant to help with the cost of construction and equipment expenses (November 2012 LION.)

“After the earthquake, I saw so many injured, and we didn’t have enough nurses to help them,” says Indji Tad- grin. “That strengthened my resolve to become a nurse and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Meeting immediate needs is crucial following a disaster, as Lions have recently shown with the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, an earthquake in New Zealand and hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States. Lions also meet long-term needs so people return to their lives and regain their independence.

LCIF gave $55.5 million in grants last year. Thanks to LCIF, Lions expanded SightFirst to address new and emerging threats to vision. Lions helped Lions in Nepal ensure that children were vaccinated and protected against measles. Lions formed partnerships through Lions Quest to enable even more students gain positive life skills. Lions helped educate new nurses in Haiti to deliver critical health- care. Thanks to LCIF, Lions provided hope, health and opportunity to people worldwide.

In fiscal year 2011-2012, our Foundation awarded 513 grants totaling US$55.5 million. Some examples of Lions’ impact in the past year include:

Thirty-one million people had their sight saved or vision improved thanks to 35 SightFirst grants.

Approximately 33,000 people received immediate help following disasters through 165 Emergency grants.

4.7 million people are benefiting from access to education, technology, health care and many other life-changing improvements through 160 Standard grants.

At least 166,000 students are learning positive life skills through 37 Lions Quest grants.

More than 91,700 people gained access to clean water and medical mission services through 26 International Assistance grants.

A message from Past International President Sid L. Scruggs III, LCIF Chairperson 2011-2012

Dear Fellow Lions,

When I became Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation in July 2011, I knew that the job would be rewarding, but I had no idea just how rewarding it would be. Judy and I visited Lions clubs around the world, witnessing projects both large and small that saved and improved lives, rebuilt destructed areas, aided vulnerable populations and supported youth. It truly was an honor for us to serve as your Foundation representatives.

If you or your club supported our Foundation, you were there with us. You helped Sunita in Nepal when she received a measles vaccination. You aided millions in Ethiopia by distributing medicine for blinding trachoma, and you supported students throughout the 73 countries where Lions Quest is active. Yes, you were there for these projects and so many more because you are the strength of our International Foundation. None of these LCIF projects would be possible without your support.

Let me take this opportunity to express my appreciation for you, Lions, for all you helped to accomplish. When Judy and I visited Japan, New Zealand, India, Nepal and other areas of the world, we saw firsthand the global impact of our Foundation to change and restore lives.

Our partners have also recognized LCIF’s ability to make a difference in our world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is- sued a challenge grant for us to raise funds to eliminate measles, and the Lions rose to the challenge. Our life-changing work with our other important partners continues as well, including our new Lions Quest work with the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Each of our partners helps LCIF to achieve success and reach even more people.

You can learn more about what your generosity accomplished this past year in our annual report, available online. As we shine a light on our Foundation, you will better understand how your donations allow LCIF to grow and help even more people and communities in need.

Once again, I thank you for your continued service to others, and for your financial support of our Foundation. Please remember, as I do when I reflect on my year as your chairperson, we serve others when we “let the light of hope shine through you and me.”

Serving together today for a better tomorrow,

Sid L. Scruggs III LCIF Chairperson 2011-2012

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