This opinion piece by Lions International Vice President Palmer was published in the Newcastle Herald on 28 September 2012
Until you make a deep and longstanding commitment to volunteering; it’s hard to understand how much our communities need volunteers. Ordinary, generous and committed people “giving freely of their time, labour and means”. That’s one of our Lions ethics and a pretty important one. It’s why the community has faith that when they support us, we won’t waste their contribution.
The impact of our service clubs is amazing. Lions Clubs International Save Sight Campaign has raised over $415 million dollars since it commenced. That’s helping to eradicate preventable blindness by paying for 8 million cataract surgeries, preventing trachoma for 10 million Ethiopans and providing 150 million doses of Mecticzan to control river blindness around the world. We’ve just partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate measles from the Globe.
Closer to home we supported Prof Ian Frazer for 20 years in his mission to create a Cervical Cancer vaccine. Fred Hollows, the Bionic Ear, Cyclone Tracey, the Black Saturday Bushfires… Lions have been there playing their part.
People tend to think of us as a fundraising organisation, but at its core we are community service volunteers. We build parks, plant trees, we staff relief centres during emergencies. Our global network in 207 countries means that when we have to get in and help, we work through our clubs to make sure that relief, aid, support and equipment goes to the right people. One of the saddest, but most rewarding experiences to me was following the Tsunami in Indonesia. Lions got together with our local counterparts following the Tsunami and we actually rebuilt a village…even to the point of new fishing boats to get the locals back to work. It was truly inspiring.
I had the pleasure on Monday to visit the work that the local Lions have been doing at the Wetlands over many years. Thousands of hours transforming a barren waterfront to a green, sensory walking trail for vision-impaired and sighted people alike.
Our organisation is really quite simple to engage with. We are first and foremost a humanitarian organisation – members join because they want to help improve their community at a local, national or global scale. We are a network – we have nearly 1.4 million members around the world, and because we all wear the badge, we have an instant connection to each other. We have a reputation for achievement and ‘doing the right thing. That’s a great asset to us.
Finally, we are in the business of making humanitarian dreams a reality. When you explore our organisation, you can see thousands of examples of everyday Lions recognising a problem, then working with others to dream up a solution and putting it into practice.
So I’m a part of this organisation because I want our members to follow their dreams for a better world.
See the published articles: