May 5, 2021USA2019-2020 LCIF Annual ReportAt the outset of my term as chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), I imagined the day I would write this message, reflecting on global progress made possible by LCIF during the year. What I never imagined is how incredibly full my heart would be today.In a year like none before, I was so very humbled as LCIF empowered the humanitarian spirit, creativity, and tenacity of Lions and partners worldwide. Prior to a global pandemic limiting travel, I visited Lions across the world and saw the good work they do in their communities. I’ll never forget the happy children at Zambia’s Ndola Lions School for the Visually Impaired singing and dancing as we celebrated the school’s new classrooms and dormitories. Another, occurred in Australia, where I witnessed Lions’ strength after the devastating bushfires. Though they themselves had suffered, Lions were selfless in their service. I marveled at these projects and so many others, as Lions shared their stories of life-changing work made possible by LCIF.I also had the pleasure of joining Lions at their fundraising events for LCIF. Japan, Poland, Mexico, Italy, Thailand, and Greenland are just a few places I visited where Lions showed fierce dedication to LCIF and embraced the notion of service equating to both doing and giving.Then came the last half of the fiscal year. COVID-19 caused unparalleled fear, hardship, and change. Suddenly, it was difficult for Lions to serve as usual. But, where there is a need, there is a Lion…and there is LCIF.With more than US$5.1 million in LCIF funding for pandemic relief, Lions heroically navigated unimaginable challenges. In Canada, they provided meals to weary doctors and nurses staying at the hospital to contain the virus. Roughly 11,000 kilometers away, Bangladesh Lions also provided food, this time to families no longer able to afford nourishment due to lack of work. Serving their communities, Lions in Indonesia increased access to handwashing in public places, while those in France found ways to connect patients in medical isolation with loved ones.Adjusting rapidly as social distancing took hold, Lions and Leos began harnessing the power of technology to continue supporting LCIF and serve safely. New Jersey, USA-based Leos held a virtual fundraising concert. Lions leaders joined with LCIF staff to provide free webinars to Lions, discussing the future of service and the possibilities ahead.As we navigate today’s new normal, I recognize and applaud Lions and our partner organizations making progress in LCIF’s cause areas. Together with LCIF, together because of LCIF, we continue our endeavors.To Lions, partners, and friends of LCIF who showed such tremendous support this year, thank you for ensuring LCIF can continue empowering those serving to improve health and well-being, strengthen communities, and protect the vulnerable. And to all, I thank you for the honor and privilege of continuing my journey as LCIF chairperson.In friendship,Gudrun Yngvadottir 2019-2020 Chairperson Lions Clubs International FoundationEnjoy a selection of stories from around the world from the 2019-2020 LCIF Annual Report. To read all this year’s stories, plus grant information, campaign updates, and more, visit the digital LCIF Annual Report.Funding an Urban Oasis for All A rapidly growing problem, deforestation robs wildlife of their homes while also wreaking havoc on weather patterns, air quality, climate, and entire ecosystems. As forests are cleared to make way for development or unsafe farming, a dire situation is being created. Air quality is suffering for residents, and land animals, the vast majority of which live in forested land, are becoming extinct.In urban Busan, Korea, Lions did their part to tackle deforestation and grow a healthier environment. Using a US$34,103 LCIF District and Club Community Impact grant, they planted 1,000 trees in the Geumjeong Mountain area, where residents were seeking more open space to enjoy fresh air.To rapidly transform the land into an urban forest oasis, Lions worked the land, dotting it with fast-growing fragrant cypress and colorful camellia trees.With each new day, Lions Forest grows more lush, providing a much-needed home to wildlife and visitors with improved air quality, shade, tranquility, and abundant opportunity to enjoy nature.Responding to COVID-19 Our decade began like no other, with healthcare systems stressed, economies halted, and more than a billion people worldwide staying home, staying safe. Answering the urgent call was LCIF, funding Lions’ efforts to serve their communities while also staying safe. Through special COVID-19 grants, as well as its District and Club Community Impact grants, LCIF empowered Lions globally to deliver protection and relief during some of the world’s darkest hours.Breathing Easier in Italy When COVID-19 first began its global spread, Italy was hit particularly hard. In March, seemingly overnight, it gained the dubious distinction of having the world’s second highest rate of cases and deaths.Overwhelmed with patients, hospitals rapidly depleted precious resources, including space; medical workers were stretched beyond their limits. Lions in Italy immediately began planning how to help. They determined they would fight a respiratory virus by protecting residents of Casa di Gabri, a residential home for children whose respiratory conditions and compromised immune systems require highly specialized, 24-hour care.With a US$13,000 LCIF District and Club Community Impact grant, Lions purchased a SmartVest, which helps clear lungs and airways, making breathing easier and less painful. With the vest donated to Casa di Gabri, the home was better prepared for a potential virus outbreak, easing the minds of those caring for its residents.Guiding More Productive Lives “Man’s best friend.” The common phrase describes loving and lovable dogs, who fill so many lives with companionship and sheer joy. For 20 residents of Argentina, these best friends do so much more. For these residents, dogs guide the way to more productive and fulfilling lives.An estimated 650,000 Argentineans live with blindness, yet until recently a scarce 22 had the invaluable assistance of a guide dog, the majority of which were trained in other countries. With the U.S. provider of these highly skilled, life-changing “friends” no longer exporting service dogs, Lions in Argentina developed a plan that, with support from a US$100,000 LCIF Matching grant, helped the blossoming Argentinian Guide Dog School build a permanent home and increase the number of dogs trained for service.When the school’s operations initially began, administrative offices were housed in La Colonia Quilmes Oeste Lions Club clubhouse, breeding occurred on a Lion’s farm, and a local amusement park modeled like a town served as the dogs’ training grounds. With LCIF grant funds, contributions and sweat equity from local Lions, and land donated by the Quilmes, Argentina, government, the permanent facility came to fruition.Today, all Argentinian Guide Dog School functions – breeding, training, administration – take place efficiently under one roof. The facility also includes an operating room and has sent trained dogs to Chile, Ecuador, and Spain to help visually impaired residents there enjoy more independent lives as well.Building Better School Environments and Communities With newfound knowledge and life skills, students are better equipped to do great things in their communities and lives.In Merrick, New York, USA, students and teachers feel the positive effects of Lions Quest, LCIF’s social and emotional learning curriculum. Launched district-wide, Lions Quest is helping students develop confidence, self-esteem, and teamwork skills, while fostering a sense of community, through ongoing fun, team-oriented lessons and discussions.Second-graders at Chatterton School enjoyed a lesson that required them to work together toward a common goal and then discussed what worked and what did not. “This is the kind of teamwork we expect from our students and value as a school community,” said Chatterton School Principal Dana Bermas. “Lions Quest reinforces the school philosophy of kindness and respect for all and gives us a common language among all students.”In addition to benefitting students, Lions Quest is also positively affecting the community. Students at Birch School raised close to US$3,200 for childhood cancer research after participating in the program’s service-learning lessons. Said sixth-grader Ryan, “Lions Quest has helped me be a better person. It taught us to put others first.”Committed to Reducing Food Insecurity Hunger is an everyday presence for some, stressful physically and mentally. Food insecurity is also detrimental to those trying to gain financial stability and forge more promising futures for themselves and their communities. It’s all intertwined.In Quebec, Canada’s Argenteuil County, many families experience hunger, relying on local Center d’Entraide d’Argenteuil, which provides food and empowering social services for the community. Vital to the center’s ability to serve residents is a refrigerated truck that transports fresh food from providers to the center. When the truck broke down beyond repair, the lifeline many locals relied on was effectively severed, seriously limiting residents’ access to nutritious food they get from the center. Understanding the critical impact on children and families, Lions acted swiftly.With a US$26,718 LCIF Matching grant, Lions purchased the community center a new truck and modified it with a refrigeration system. Because of LCIF and Lions, the center’s 1,500 weekly patrons once again have access to a bounty of fresh, healthy food.Empowering Massive, Healthy Change “The magnitude of the problem is immense,” said Rajesh Kolarikkal, a past district governor of Lions Clubs International. “LCIF enabled us to help improve quality of life by preventing complications of the disease and helping prevent onset of type 2 diabetes.”Diabetes has taken a severe toll on residents of Kerala State, considered the “diabetes capital” of India, Kolarikkal’s home country. With rates of the disease rising, and as many as 57 percent of cases going undiagnosed, Lions in 100 clubs began a three-year effort to create massive change in Kerala. They did so with help from a US$71,610 LCIF Diabetes grant.In collaboration with Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS), one of India’s largest medical facilities, 150 Lions and accredited social health activists (ASHA) from the country’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are learning to measure blood sugar levels and perform diabetes screenings. Grant funds are also helping ASHA workers become adept at using cameras designed to detect diabetes-related eye issues, such as diabetic retinopathy.Those identified as having undiagnosed diabetes or at high risk of developing the disease are referred to Lions’ diabetes events, where a 40-member medical team from AIMS provides potentially life-saving counseling and care.LCIF funding is also helping educate Lions on diabetes complications, basic foot care, and healthy lifestyle changes. Lions then share this knowledge with community members as they distribute materials during diabetes education and screening events they organize.In the project’s first six months, 145 ASHA workers were trained, and 72,500 Kerala residents were screened during 33 events. Of those referred for diabetes-related care, 92 percent attended follow-up appointments, boding well for the health of Kerala.Handwashing and Hope in Indonesia As COVID-19 continued to spread, so did education on methods of protection from the debilitating virus.A particularly effective and simple practice is thorough handwashing. While scrubbing germs away at home may be relatively easy, what if ready access to soap and water is not available? What happens when life requires venturing into public places and away from sanitation?To provide community members increased handwashing opportunities, Lions in and near Jakarta, Indonesia, used a US$10,000 LCIF Emergency grant to build 11 sanitizing stations outside health centers and hospitals throughout the area. Each setup offers a refillable water tank, four sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towels. With remaining grant funds, Lions purchased and distributed invaluable personal protective equipment (PPE), providing local hospitals 180 boxes of gloves and surgical masks, 300 pairs of boots, 300 face shields, 350 hazmat suits, and nine thermometers. As many as 50,000 community members are estimated to have benefitted from the PPE.Broadening its support, LCIF provided three additional US$10,000 grants for COVID-19 relief efforts throughout Indonesia. Said one medical professional, “Thank you Lions Clubs for providing PPEs. They have been in short supply, and now our doctors can change their PPE according to the standard.”Rebuilding the Future in Southeast Africa Pummeling Southeast Africa’s coast, Cyclone Idai delivered a devastating blow in 2019, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi all suffering the storm’s wrath and sustaining unprecedented damage and devastation. Nearly 1,100 people perished; hundreds of thousands more were left homeless. Idai caused a humanitarian crisis unlike any before in the region. With more than three million people in desperate need, LCIF responded swiftly, sending 200 tents providing much needed shelter and 700 water purifiers, vital to stemming the cholera outbreak that had begun. But there was more to be done.With a focus on restoring children’s education and everyday lives, Lions used US$70,000 in LCIF Disaster grants to help rebuild three schools as well as damaged classrooms in so many more. Though destruction and debris made reaching worksites in the three countries treacherous, Lions persevered. Steadily, once-obliterated schools rose from the ground. Steadily, classrooms rendered uninhabitable became safe once again.Together, LCIF and Lions had helped transform devastating reminders of the area’s worst natural disaster into beacons of hope for more promising futures.