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April - May 2007


Lions Club International Foundation celebrates Melvin Jonesís Birthday

It was Melvin Jones Birthday celebration at the Marriot hotel in Hounslow. The organiser Mrs. Vijay Arora of had meticulously organised the function, an inspiring setting for Melvin Jones Awards to be given by the International President to all those Lions who had done some really meritorious work during the previous year. Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions Club was born 128 years ago. He lived his life by the motto that would shape Lions commitment to service. His motto was: “You can’t get very far until you start to do something for someone else.”

In his passionate address to the congregation, the International President Mr Tae-Sup Lee said,” Our commitment to service has changed the world. It was because of our commitment to serve that we accepted Helen Keller’s challenge to become Knights of the Blind. It is because of our commitment to serve that we established the SightFirst programme, saving the sight of more than 27 million people. and it is because of our commitment to serve that we will save another 37 million people from blindness through Campaign SightFirst II.” Over the year, Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded more than 560 million US$ in grants to humanitarian projects around the world. Almost US$200 million were grants for SightFight. SightFirstII has a goal of US$200 million. Mr Lee pointed out that “LCIF and the SightFirst programe is Lions helping Lions serving the world every day. Our foundation allows our 1.3 million Lions in 45,000 clubs spread out in 199 countries and geographic areas to have a greater impact than we could alone. Our power is in our numbers and through LCIF, Lions are able to ease pain and suffering and give healing and hope to people worldwide. To put it simply, through LCIF, Lions have the power to change the world.”

Giving an historical view of the Movement, the International President said, “When you consider the millennia during which blindness has caused suffering and despair in our world, we Lions have had relatively little time to make an impact. We began fighting blindness only in 1925 when Helen Keller challenged us to become “Knights of the Blind” in the great battle against darkness. We have accompished so much in such a short time! Once dedicated to the cause, we attacked it with all our energy, and in the past 80 years, we Lions hve done more to alleviate the suffering caused by blindness than had been done in all the thousands of years that came before. But in an even shorter time - the 16 years since 1990 - we have accomplished more than in the previous 65 years. We have taken on the leading causes of preventable blindness and pushed back their advance for the first time in human history. In 1990, there were approx. 40 million blind people in the world. And experts predictd that the number could double by 2005, 15 years later. Today, the estimated bind population stands at 37 million - an actual reduction in the number of people suffering from blindness, despite a vast increase in the world’s overall population.”

Mr Lee being presented with a cheque by the Moor Park Lions Club

Giving a graphic picture of the hard targets to be achieved in the future, Mr Lee said,“Sixteen years ago, through the generosity of the Lions the Campaign SightFirst I helped in mitigating the sufferings of the blinds all over the world. These funds are all exhausted. Without our continued efforts, in another 15 years the world’s blind population will double from 37 million to 74 million. Through Campaign SightFirst II, we have the opportunity to provide the miracle of sight to 37 million of our fellow human beings by raising a minimum of US$150 million. We can halt and reverse the tide of blindness that threatens to darken the lives of so many. With our SightFirst II cmpaign successfully concluded, we can by 2020 save 61 million from blindness, perform 9 million cataract surgeries, give 110 million treatments for river blindness and eliminate riverblindness in Latin America. We will be able to protect 40 million people from trachoma and eliminate in 10 countries. We shall be able to build or expand 458 Eye hospitals and clinics. We shall be able to train 78,000 Eye-Care workers and establish 20 regional education centres for teachers of the Blind. These numbers represent the possibilities of what we can accomplish together. They are within our reach and every Lion can help. It costs on average just US$6 to change the world for a fellow human being. I can’t think of anything that gives me more pride or demonstrates the pride of Lions better than this simple truth.”

After his inspiring speech, the International President Mr Lee presented Melvin Jones Fellowship to successful Lions who have made significaton contribution to charitable work in Lions Clubs.

The evening concluded with thanks to Mrs Vijay Arora, the organiser. The entertainment was provided by Brazilian and South Korean dancers. It was an inspiring evening with humanitarian purpose. After dinner, the guests joined in to dance wih the accompaniment of live music.

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