The Gates Foundation has awarded LCIF $5 million

By Russell Sarver Past international director of Lions Clubs International

Russell Sarver is a Past international director of Lions Clubs InternationalLions Clubs do great work locally and around the world. Below are some examples of what has been accomplished.

Update of measles initiative: Since joining the measles initiative last year, Lions Clubs International Foundation, in a collaborative effort with several leading organizations to eliminate measles, have vaccinated the one-billionth child for measles. Since 2001, the World Health Organization estimates that measles has been reduced by 78 percent. In 2009, almost 900,000 African children died from measles; and in 2010, 164,000 died from measles.

The Gates Foundation has awarded Lions Clubs International Foundation $5 million for the program this year, by matching every $2 that LCIF raises with $1, and they have set a combined goal of providing $15 million toward this initiative.

Lions Clubs making impact in South Asia: Lions helped to raise more than $200 million during Campaign SightFirst II in donations and pledges. These funds already are having a great impact around the world, including South Asia. To date, in South Asia, the program has helped to fund 112 projects totaling $16.9 million. These funds are being used to upgrade or expand 72 clinics and hospitals, provide 496,200 cataract surgeries, and train 96 midlevel ophthalmic personnel. In addition, one eye hospital will be constructed and equipped, and one multiple district diabetic retinopathy program, including equipment and training, has been completed.

LCIF awards grants: At the recent international board of directors meeting in Hong Kong,  55 grants were awarded, totaling $4.09 million and benefiting 915,778 individuals. This includes $1.19 million for the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program.

River blindness eliminated in Colombia: Since 2004, SightFirst has been a contributing partner in the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program (River Blindness) of the Americas, which works to end river blindness in Latin America. As a result of work done in these areas, it is announced that Colombia is now free from river blindness.

LCIF providing famine relief in Africa: Right now, famine is threatening the lives of millions of people in Africa. As always, Lions are bringing aid to the people affected by this disaster. LCIF has approved a $15,000 grant to support famine relief. Lions in Kenya also collected $10,000, and our members around the world are rallying to help. Lions in Sweden are donating $77,000; a Lions Club in Germany has pledged to collect $7,100; and Lions from Ethiopia are also taking part in relief efforts.

Lions in Australia Help Chart a New Course for Troubled Young People


Many of our members work on projects to meet the specific needs of youth – whether they’re at risk for vision loss or don’t have enough to eat. In Australia, Lions support a program that helps troubled young people chart a new course for their future.

We sent a film crew to Sydney to find out about a cruise that is unlike any other. The Aboriginal Cultural Cruise provides stunning views of the harbor. A look at aboriginal history and culture. And a journey of transformation and hope for many of the crew, who are part of the Lions’ Tribal Warrior project.

Thanks to a grant from LCIF, Tribal Warrior gives life changing opportunities to “at risk” youth. Rob Roberts, a member of the Redfern Waterloo Lions Club, told our video crew, “Tribal Warrior provides maritime training to a lot of disadvantaged Australians, with the emphasis on indigenous youth. Our kids are our future.  And we’ve got to look after them and nurture them.”

Take Part in Our Commemorative Coin Campaign to Help Raise Millions for LCIF

How much is a Lions’ silver dollar worth? About $8 million. That’s how much we hope to raise for LCIF if the U.S. Congress passes a commemorative coin bill honoring the centennial of Lions in 2017.

Getting Congressional approval is not automatic. Congress passes only two commemorative coin bills each year. But many Lions including past international presidents, past international directors and other members are lobbying their congressional representatives to pass the bi-partisan legislation. If approved, the U.S. Mint will produce as many as 400,000 coins. After the U.S. Mint recovers its cost, a $10 surcharge for every coin sold will go to LCIF and its programs for the visually impaired, the disabled, youths and victims of natural disasters.

The commemorative coin idea originated with two members of the Sandy Spring Lions Club in Maryland. Brother Meredith Pattie, a past district governor, and Alan Ballard were at a luncheon for Melvin Jones Fellows when they began to brainstorm ways to support LCIF.

“Our first idea was a coin for the 50th anniversary of the death of Melvin Jones [in 1961]. But we realized we were too late for that,” says Pattie. They eventually formed a nine-person Lions’ committee from District 22 C that includes Past International Director Joseph Gaffigan.

Co-sponsors of the Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act, H.R. 2139, are Rep. Peter Roskam, whose district in Illinois includes Oak Brook and LCI headquarters, and Rep. Larry Kissell,  from North Carolina who is a Lion. Another Lion, Senator Jerry Moran from Kansas, introduced the bill, S. 1299, in that chamber. The bill needs 290 co-sponsors in the U. S. House and 67 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate to pass.

We ask all Lions to write or call their representatives to urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 2139. Our Web site offers tips on contacting lawmakers and includes a regularly updated tally of number of co-sponsors.

World Water Day 2011: Lions Providing Clean Water in Japan and Around the World

World Water Day LogoEvery year, the United Nations designates March 22 as World Water Day to highlight global safe water and sanitation issues around the world. We’re proud to join a diverse coalition of water, sanitation, hygiene and health organizations taking part in World Water Day 2011.

Today, our members in Japan are working to provide clean water to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. But, clean water is also a matter of life and death in many other communities. One of every eight people in the world lacks safe drinking water. Forty percent of people lack adequate sanitation. And more than 4,000 children in developing countries die every day because they don’t have clean water.

Lions have been working to provide clean water and sanitation for many years. Our members are making a difference in the worldwide water crisis by installing water purification systems in schools in India. Constructing more than 1.3 million latrines. And providing thousands of clean water wells through 148 LCIF water projects.

Dr. Wing-Kun Tam Named to Pediatric Cataract Initiative’s Global Advisory Council

OAK BROOK, ILL. — Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has appointed Dr. Wing-Kun Tam to the global advisory council of the Pediatric Cataract Initiative (

The newly founded Initiative is utilizing the resources of the Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute and LCIF to identify, fund and promote innovative methods of overcoming pediatric cataract — a debilitating childhood eye condition — for the long-term benefit of children, their families and their communities.

Dr. Tam was recently elected as the first vice president of Lions Clubs International at its International Convention in Sydney, Australia. He will become president of Lions Clubs International in June 2011.

Dr. Tam was instrumental in launching the “SightFirst China Action” program in 1990 between LCIF’s SightFirst Program and the People’s Republic of China. This partnership paired Lions Clubs blindness prevention mobilization efforts with financial support for SightFirst China Action, and was matched by US$200 million from the Chinese government. Since the program’s launch, SightFirst China Action has restored sight by providing cataract surgeries to more than five million people in China and strengthening the eye care infrastructure by creating secondary eye care units at hospitals in 200 counties with under developed eye care within China’s provinces and in Tibet.

He is a member and/or chairperson of numerous boards and committees of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government. He has been the Hong Kong Convention Ambassador since 1995. Prior to the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR, he served as a Hong Kong district affairs advisor.

Dr. Tam is a justice of the peace in the Hong Kong SAR. He was appointed honorary consul of the Republic of Kenya in the Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR of the People’s Republic of China as well as commissioner for the Kenya Tourist Board – Far East.

His vast experience with LCIF’s worldwide blindness prevention efforts and LCIF’s collaboration for initiatives within China will add to the Pediatric Cataract Initiative’s global advisory council’s expertise. The PCI Advisory Council is comprised of renowned eye health experts from around the world, including:

Gullapalli “Nag” Rao, M.D. (Board Chairman). Dr. Rao is founder of the LV Prasad Eye Institute (Hyderabad, India), and he is known worldwide for his humanitarian efforts to prevent blindness.
Joseph Barr, O.D., MS, FAAO. Dr. Barr is vice president of Global Clinical & Medical Affairs and Professional Services (Vision Care) for Bausch + Lomb (Rochester, N.Y.). He is an emeritus professor of Optometry and Vision Science at Ohio State University, and the emeritus editor of Contact Lens Spectrum.
Sean P. Donahue, Ph.D., M.D. Dr. Donahue is professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.).
Clare Gilbert, M.D., MSc. Dr. Gilbert is professor of International Eye Health at the International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London University (U.K.), and a global authority on childhood blindness.
Scott Lambert, M.D. Dr. Lambert is professor of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics at Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.).
Lipika Roy, M.D., MBA. Dr. Roy is head of Asia-Pacific Medical Affairs for Bausch + Lomb (Singapore). A pediatric ophthalmologist, she was formerly the assistant director of research, ophthalmology, for Singapore’s National Health Care Group.

Pediatric Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Causes include intrauterine infections such as pregnancy rubella, metabolic disorders and genetically transmitted syndromes.

For additional information, visit or follow the Initiative at and

Lions gather for good food, to give to Haiti relief efforts

With the Leadership and inspiring passion to serve others, Roxboro Lion Alan Michael, manager of Golden Corral Family Restaurant in Garner, the people and aid workers of Haiti will receive needed funds. With endorsement from Golden Corral Headquarters and General Manager Al Gauge, the entire restaurant staff, other community service organizations, the Garner Police Department, the Garner-Raleigh community, and the Lions Clubs from District G raised $1,182.43 for LCIF Disaster relief efforts in a country few had ever visited.

These necessary funds were raised in only four hours. In the local depressed economy, everyone attending was aware of the needs for compassion towards the people in Haiti. Golden Corral also added to the effort with financial aid from part of the guests meal purchase. LCIF and the needs of people in Haiti also won over our guests and new friends within the Garner Police Department. A Garner Civitan called his Civic Club members to become a part of this exciting effort.

Partnering with Lions Clubs, Golden Corral is not new to stepping up to the needs of communities and their citizens around the world. Always generous in extending assistance for the local communities, the needs of Lions, and around the world, Golden Corral is a leader and sets an example to businesses throughout the world with the necessity of offering assistance when needed. The Garner Golden Corral and management answered the immediate need in both the LCIF-Katrina and LCIF-China efforts by raising needed funds for relief in those LCIF efforts. This was the same kind of partnership and event held. As a long standing member of the Roxboro Lions Club and past LCIF Sight-First II Coordinator, Lion Alan Michael has the insight to employee quality compassionate people who know what needs truly are. His staff is multi-culture in background and he has had to learn three languages to be able to communicate in his daily duties. The Golden Corral service and support staff donated their hard earned income as well for this effort. An event like this makes is fun however, it is harder for the service staff because of the people involved trying to serve the guests, informing everyone about what Lions accomplish through LCIF.

The Garner Police Department, “McGruff the Crime Dog”, met and greeted everyone that entered the restaurant. McGruff never missed the opportunity to have his picture taken with those that were young as well as those that were young at heart. The Police officers took care of the tables and serviced needs while the Lions of District 31-G, worked with the dinner guests by meeting their immediate needs for fun, knowledge and informational flyers with dinner. Lions filled in to take care of any gaps in service for the guests. Lions handed out flyers, explained what Lions accomplish both locally and globally, LCIF, and community needs within the State of North Carolina. Laughs, conversation, education and Service to Others made this a great night for everyone involved.

Just as “Lions Clubs International Foundation working with local Lions Clubs members with boots on the ground” at the Disaster site meet the timely needs in our world wide community and humanitarian efforts… previously stated from the immediate past Lions Clubs International Foundation President Al Brandel.

Every International Disaster in the recent years the Lions-Golden Corral Partnership has stepped up to be an important part of the cure for a disaster. The funding of a LCIF grant awarded to the country will secure a great future for Haiti in the years to follow this earthquake. The immediate grant aided in the initial disaster, the long term grant and relief efforts after others have left the country, this is what makes the Lions Clubs International Foundation different from others. Each dollar donated will make it to the relief effort and the goals of the rebuilding process. Outstanding humanitarian Lions Club members, like Alan Michael, have the unique opportunity to live up to the organizations motto, “We Serve!” This is what Lions Club Membership is all about, Service to Others.

LCIF Responds to Earthquake in Italy

Italy earthquakeOAK BROOK, IL USA, April 6, 2009 – More than 100,000 people are homeless and 100 dead following the devastating earthquake centered in the medieval city of L’Anquila, Italy the morning of April 6. The 6.3-magnitude quake occurred 60 miles northeast of Rome. In all, 26 towns and villages were damaged.

Lions throughout Italy are assisting in emergency response efforts. LCIF has already issued a US$10,000 Emergency Grant so that Lions in the affected areas can quickly help people get food, water and medicine. LCIF will continue to work with Lions to assess immediate and long-term needs.

Challenge to Change: Re-branding Lionism

Mahendra AmarasuriyaAs the International President for 2007 – 2008 of one of the world’s biggest NGOs, Lions Club International, Lion Mahendra Amarasuriya brought a singular honour to Sri Lanka as the first Sri Lankan to hold such an internationally recognized position.

During his leadership year, accompanied by his Lion Lady Kushlani, he was able to instill new thinking and a new sense of direction to the Lions worldwide. In a display of his strong leadership ability and a commitment to innovative thinking, Lion Amarasuriya introduced a novel programs titled “Challenge to Change” to the Lions, spread across 202 countries.

Given his background of steering some of Sri Lanka’s strongest blue chips towards success, Lion Amarasuriya’s concept of change resonated well with the current phase of thinking globally. Lion Amarasuriya strove to “re-brand” Lionism to be more relevant to the 21st century. He also stressed on inclusion of young people in the clubs “they are the future and the torch bearers of the Lions Club in the years to come” he noted.

From small beginnings in 1917 in Chicago, USA with the inspiration of Melvin Jones, its founder, Lions experienced a tremendous growth in the 20st century. In 1995, the global membership stood at 1.425 million.
From small beginnings in 1917 in Chicago, USA with the inspiration of Melvin Jones, its founder, Lions experienced a tremendous growth in the 20st century. In 1995, the global membership stood at 1.425 million. Although the leadership envisioned further growth to over 1.5 million, such an increase in membership did not re-place, with 2003-2004 being exceptions, the other years saw a decline

Although the leadership envisioned further growth to over 1.5 million, such an increase in membership did not re-place, with 2003-2004 being exceptions, the other years saw a decline.

It stood at 1,292,000 when Mahendra Amarasuriya took over the mantle of leadership in 2007. Under the slogan “Challenge to Change”, Lion Amarasuriya’s innovative proposals began to take effect across the world, among the Lions.

He encouraged the Lions to include new technology – use of e mails and internet and web based communication were actively encouraged. He also promoted Internet clubs and a special effort to bring in women into membership.

Women were first admitted to Lions Clubs in 1987. Under “Challenge to Change,” Lion Amarasuriya recommended that new clubs include one third women and one third young people in the membership. He also encouraged the Lions to plan and execute projects on a well planned basis rather than going into ad-hoc projects, thus enhancing the visibility and the success of the project.

Under the Core Programs, a list of challenges that needed to be achieved were included in the “Challenge to Change” program. Starting with a challenge to re-brand the Lions Clubs in order to bring them into alignment with the needs of the 21st century, the list covered many other aspects such as attracting a young membership.

A challenge to grow in terms of being a quality Lion and a challenge towards developing quality leadership, able to understand the dynamics of the 21st century, were among other goals.

Stressing on the need for sustainable projects, he encouraged a three year cycle and long term planning processes in order to ensure sustainable growth. He initiated a global team which he called the “20K team” which spear-headed the membership development programmes with a target of achieving a net group of 20,000 members. He targeted specific growth in membership in different regions – from the USA and Canada to Central and South America, The Caribbean, Europe, The Fast East, Australia, New Zealand and India, South Asia, Africa and Middle East region, known as ISAAME constitutional area.

During his leadership, Lion Amarasuriya visited over 50 countries, participating in various projects. Having instituted changes at a global level, he also made recommendations to clubs to initiate change at a local level. He required the clubs to have short interesting meetings on a novel platform – including music and karaoke. There would be better involvement and participation, it was envisaged, with such innovative changes.

With a target of achieving, 1,250 new clubs, under Amarasuriya’s leadership, an overwhelming response was seen in the formation of 1,718 clubs, a first ever in the history of Lionism the world over.

The challenge to include at least 25-30% membership of 40 years of less and to include a 25-30% women in the new clubs formed, saw the infusion of new blood into the clubs at the end of the year, a net growth of 15,800 members were achieved, a record in recent times.

A challenge to enhance the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) by increasing the number of Melvin Jones Fellowships to 350,000 was also planned. A donation of Us $ 1,000 to the LCIF recognises a Lion as a Melvin Jones Fellow and “Challenge to Change”, there was a rapid increase in Melvin Jones Fellowships thereby enhancing the ability of LCIF to fund projects in all parts of the world.

Challenge to Change also stressed on the flag ship project of the Lions worldwide, Sight First. Inspired by the famous Helen Keller to become the Knights of the Blind, back in the twenties, the Lions Sight First programmes worldwide have its thousands of lamps for those living in darkness.

The Challenge to Change plan included a challenge to raise Sight First funding to US $ 150 million a stretch target of US $ 200 million, a three year fund raising campaign which was successfully completed in 2007/08, during Lion Amarasuriya’s tenure as Lions International President, which brought in great honour to Sri Lanka.

Challenge to Change also included a “Challenge” to revive and develop the Leo Movement which is targeted at the youth, to achieve its maximum potential. In addition, a ‘Challenge’ to expand the Lions Quest Programme, a world renouncing youth development programme, to be extended to 50 countries, was also achieved.

Challenge to re-engineer the Lions PR effort globally was also focused, giving a fresh new commentum to the brand of Lionism. It also targeted bringing Lionism in line with modern thinking and innovation.

In all aspects, “the Challenge to Change” was indeed able to usher in fresh thinking into Lionism worldwide, motivating the Lions to reach new horizons, with fresh insights and opportunities. Challenge to Change inspired Lions to embrace change with a level of dynamism and motivation not achieved during the recent history of global Lionism.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Dedicates ‘Gift of Sight’ Statue in Recognition of Lions’ Blindness Prevention Efforts

President Carter, to visit LionsOAK BROOK, Ill., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will dedicate the “Gift of Sight” statue on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at Lions Clubs International headquarters, 300 W. 22nd St., Oak Brook. The statue symbolizes Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF) ongoing collaborative efforts to combat preventable blindness and is a gift to Lions from The Carter Center.

The bronze statue depicts a child leading a man blinded by river blindness. For hundreds of years, a child leading a blind elder has been the fate of families stricken with river blindness, or onchocerciasis, in Africa and Latin America.

The dedication of the statue is part of a two-day symposium at Lions Clubs International headquarters where leading sight and health organizations from around the world will gather to discuss positive youth development and blindness prevention. A Lions club member, President Carter has long joined Lions in their fight to save and restore sight.

“Rosalynn and I have seen the devastating effects that blinding diseases have on individuals and their families. The Carter Center and Lions Clubs International Foundation, along with other vital partners, are working to preserve the vision of millions of people in Africa and the Americas,” said Carter Center Founder President Carter. “Thanks to these coordinated efforts, river blindness is nearly eliminated from the Western Hemisphere.”

LCIF recently completed a three-year global fundraising campaign, raising $203 million to continue and expand LCIF’s SightFirst program worldwide. Fifty million will fund projects to combat emerging threats to sight in the U.S. and other developed countries, such as conditions related to diabetes, low vision and glaucoma. More than $100 million will support programs that control and eliminate the major causes of blindness, such as river blindness, cataract and trachoma. The remaining $50+ million will fund support new research initiatives and rehabilitation.

LCIF has a long history of partnering with The Carter Center and Merck & Co., Inc. to fight river blindness. Through these joint efforts, experts predict river blindness will be eliminated in Latin America by the year 2012.

“It is a great honor to have former President Jimmy Carter dedicate this symbolic statue,” said Lions Clubs International President, Albert Brandel. “This partnership program is preventing and eliminating blindness around the world, and Lions are proud to take a hands-on approach.”

Currently river blindness is prevalent in Latin America and Africa and is transmitted by the bite of a black fly. The disease is often blinding but can be prevented through the medication Mectizan(R). Merck has donated 600 million doses of the drug to LCIF and other partners, and LCIF has awarded more than $30 million to The Carter Center for river blindness and other eye disease control programs through the Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Initiative. Lions play a vital local role in the programs, helping educate people on the diseases, distributing the drug and providing for eye health training and equipment.

Partnerships with leading NGOs and corporations play a key role in enabling Lions to promote and expand the global humanitarian effort to combat preventable blindness.

The statue was commissioned by The Carter Center Board Chair, John Moores. The sculptor, R.T. “Skip” Wallen, internationally recognized sculptor and printmaker from Juneau, Alaska, volunteered his time to produce the original bronze study. Other life-size castings of the “Gift of Sight” statue are located at The Carter Center in Atlanta and Merck & Co., Inc. Headquarters in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, as well as four additional locations worldwide.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.3 million members in 45,000 clubs in more than 203 countries and geographical areas around the world. Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times’ study as the number one non-governmental organization with which to partner. Established in 1968, LCIF has been involved with blindness prevention and treatment for nearly 20 years through the SightFirst program. LCIF has awarded $231 million for sight programs and prevented serious vision loss for 30 million people. Learn more at and

“Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.”

A not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

LCIF Funded Eye Clinic First to Aid Underserved Populations Since Hurricane Katrina

Today the Lions Clubs International – LSU Eye Clinic was inaugurated. University staff, local Lions and Lions Clubs International Past President Jimmy Ross attended the launch event.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded a grant of $500,000 to the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Department of Ophthalmology to establish the Lions Clubs International – LSU Eye Clinic. This clinic, part of the LSU Interim Hospital system, provides vision care for the medically indigent and for patients sponsored by the Lions Clubs of Louisiana. The clinic is directed by Bruce A. Barron, M.D., Clinical Professor of the Department of Ophthalmology. Funding for the clinic was made possible by the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Program at LCIF, which provides support for vital public facilities and programs helping damaged regions recover and resume functioning.

“For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, there is a facility devoted specifically to the provision of eye care for people in the greater New Orleans area who do not have health insurance, thanks to this generous gift from LCIF. This facility has state-of-the-art equipment that allows diagnosis and treatment of devastating eye conditions. The patients whom I have seen at the Lions Clubs International – LSU Eye Clinic have all expressed an enormous amount of gratitude that such a clinic is now available to them. Most of them have been through a lot of stress since the hurricane, and this clinic has relieved their anxiety about eye care,” said Barron.

“It is a privilege for the members of this committee, on behalf of Lions Clubs members from all over the world, who have given so generously of their time and money to provide through Lions Clubs International Foundation, the resources to help establish this clinic. This clinic will be an important resource in this underserved area,” said Loweill Bonds, LCIF Hurricane Katrina Committee Chairperson and past international director.