Editor's Comment

We need many Lions among us

WE WELCOME all the delegates attending the first African Forum Women Symposium by Lions International under New Voices initiative, themed ‘Growth and unity in diversity’.
We sincerely hope that there will be new voices and new initiatives coming out of the symposium.
One new voice that came out yesterday was that of First Lady Esther Lungu, who extolled the work that Lions International has done over the past 100 years.
Mrs Lungu talked about Lions International exhibiting strong values and fostering an environment where communities feel and know their worth as human beings who deserve to be loved and cared for by all.
But how has this been done? The First Lady helped to answer that, and we agree with her – Lions International has flourished because its focus has never shifted.
Since its founding in 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, United States, by a 38-year-old businessman, Melvin Jones, the Lions have expanded to over 200 countries and geographical areas. But despite that, its mission has remained the same – to help.
It initially started as a response created by World War I and industrialisation before expanding to other areas such as helping the blind by becoming “knights of blindness” and later working with the United Nations in creating lasting peace throughout the world.
Later came the Leo Programme, which was developed to provide the youth with an opportunity for personal development through volunteerism. This was before the establishment of the Lions Club International Foundation, whose mission is to give hope and impact lives through humanitarian grants and projects. To date, we understand the foundation has given more than US$1 billion in grants.
Now in the second century of service, the Lions remain committed to taking action and making a positive impact on the world through the over 1.7 million people who are members already through the 47,000 clubs.
Although the membership is not small by any calculation, the Lions continue to reach out to individuals by encouraging them to get involved in its humanitarian work.
This is actually the background to the New Voices initiative, which seeks to promote gender parity and diversity while seeking to increase the number of women, young adults and under-represented populations within the association.
The initiative is working closely with district governors in identifying voices in areas such as service and leadership.
One of the programmes under the New Voices initiative is the Health for Her programme, which is helping fight the lack of access to feminine hygiene. The programme is not wholly new to Zambia.
In its 2017 budget, the country unveiled, for the first time, a programme to support girls from vulnerable households with requisites, including free sanitary pads in order to retain them in school. This was after the realisation that reproductive health matters are treated as a taboo in many societies. This in turn keeps girls away from class.
But because of budgetary constraints, the programme may not be working to satisfactory levels as could be expected.
That is why the New Voices initiative and the Health for Her programme by Lions are welcome. But this should not be limited to Government and the Lions; we need more players to rise to the challenge of helping those in need within our society. This should in fact extend beyond the Health for Her programme.
We have a lot of needy people in our society who deserve a helping hand. Those of us with a little more, whether at individual, family, community or corporate level, should certainly be helping out. And this should not be a one-off event but rather our way of life.
The inspiration is there. The Lions have been around for over 100 years yet they continue to improve the lives of communities in over 200 countries. And they would not have it any other way. For them, service to humanity is above anything else.
We certainly need more Lions among us.

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