Italy and Romania

When War Came, Lions Followed

Getting aid to those who need it

When news hit in late February that Russia had attacked Ukraine, Lions in surrounding countries knew they had to act.

“Lions can’t stand by without taking action,” says Marina Sabini, a member of Lions Club Asti, storici, artisti e presepisti in Asti, Italy.

“This is what we thought,” she says. “But we waited a few days to understand how to best intervene and help where there was real need.” They also waited for Lions in Romania, who they had partnered with to bring back information. “We wanted to know how and where to best help,” says Sabini.

Child plays in ball pit
Lions in Romania had taken in 62 women and children and four fathers of children with serious health problems. The toys Lions brought from Italy helped lift their spirits.

Lions Club Emeritus Brasov in Brasov, Romania, had rented and was managing a facility to house a group of refugees made up of 62 women and children and four men who are fathers of children with serious health problems.

The refugees, who had left with only what they could carry and with no idea of when or if they would be able to return home, were in desperate need of all sorts of resources for daily living, from eyeglasses to clothing to medicine and food.

The 30-member Asti club, along with the help of several other Italian clubs, began collecting the needed items including 2,400 pairs of eyeglasses and sunglasses for adults and children, 1284 kilograms (nearly 3,000 pounds) of humanitarian aid consisting of medicine, personal hygiene products, winter clothing, blankets, toys, canned food, and cash donations.

Lions Clubs International stocked food pantry
Lions from Italy brought nearly 3,000 pounds of aid to Romania, where Lions were housing and caring for Ukrainian refugees.

Lions packed a van with the donated items and traveled 3,780 kilometers (about 2,350 miles) to deliver the resources to Lions in Romania.

“The volunteers stopped there for two days to get to know and talk to the refugees and to buy food vouchers that will be used for the next months,” Sabini says.

The center provides ensuite rooms for four people, a shared kitchen, a computer room for online classes, a game room, living room, and dining room. Romanian Lions also are assisting with providing medical care, psychological support, and recreational and sports activities for the children.

The visiting Lions from Asti soon learned that the center needed a refrigerator and two food processors, which they purchased and donated

Lions Clubs International member holds refugee child
Italian Lions took time to meet the refugees and to play with the little ones to distract them from all they are going through.

on the spot.

“Every day it is necessary to feed around 70 people, including refugees and volunteers, which implies the need for a large and functional kitchen,” Sabini says.

The Lions also took time to meet the refugees and to play with the little ones.

“We brought some toys for the children who welcomed us with big hugs and affection,” she says. “We played with them for a long time, hoping to distract them for a few hours from their problems and the distance from their country and their fathers.”

Sabini described meeting the refugees as a “strong and wonderful experience.”

She says everyone, whether they prepared packages, loaded the van, or traveled to deliver the donations and meet refugees in person, did so with the hope that they would be able to provide meaningful help to the refugees.

“We also realized how important and rewarding it is to help others,” she says “and how much this fills your heart with joy.”