Lions Club partnering with UNIFIL to assist communities
Under the banner, 'We serve', the Leo Mid-West Beirut Lions Club has extended its wings to partner with UNIFIL by providing assistance to the people of southern Lebanon.
"We aim to leave our footprints in every activity that we undertake and we are delighted for the opportunity to impact the lives of communities in the south," says Ms Aproditte Houdeib, an adviser of the club.
Ms Houbeid, a lawyer and member of the International Association of Lions Club, has been volunteering to help nurture Leo Mid-West Beirut Lions Club members. She recently led some representatives to meet with the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Paolo Serra, at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura.
Club president Nadim Younes says: "We are optimistic about the future. We had a very fruitful meeting with Maj-Gen Serra. We shared with him our vision for the future. Maj-Gen Serra assured us of UNIFIL's support for projects in its Area of Operations."
The club is working on programmes to assist needy communities across Lebanon.
The two-year-old club's membership is open to youth aged between ages 18 and 35, from various parts of Lebanon.
"We are open to everyone who cares," she says.
As a partner of UNIFIL, the club's activities have mainly been coordinated with the Civil Affairs section, and are mainly concentrated in UNIFIL Area of Operations. Leo also works with municipalities in southern Lebanon to identify the projects to support.
Mr Younes is still excited about an olive harvesting project they undertook last year in Dir Mimass and Kefar Kila. It was carried out in partnership with the municipalities and Civil Affairs after identifying the farmers who were going to benefit from the assistance.
"What was most exciting about the project is that it took us away from modern technology, especially our computers," says Mr Younes. "It was the first experience for most of us who had never harvested olives before. It was exciting," he adds.
Fifteen Leo Club members participated. The president explains that they were involved in the whole process, which started with laying the net on the ground under the olive trees.
"This ensures that the farmer traps all the olives and keeps them clean. We then raked the leaves. It was so nice to see the whole place literally rain olives. It took us a couple of hours to gather the olives into piles.
"It was a very tough job that required a lot of patience and skill, and the farmers were on hand to teach us. It was exciting because it was different from our usual projects. We will definitely participate in harvesting again next year," the president assures.
He adds: "The most important lesson was that it is not easy to get the finished product."
Other projects undertaken jointly with UNIFIL, include giving out school bags to pupils and warm clothing during winter, and also donating computers. The schools assisted include Rickek Nanai, Ain Arabs and Khan Khalil School for Children with Special Needs.
The club, which is mainly composed of students, relies on well-wishers to raise funds to support its initiatives. Ms Houdeib says they often organise fundraising events, especially luncheons, in the capital Beirut.
Mr Younes says they plan to embark on an ambitious project, and will work with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on the issue of unexploded ordinance in South Lebanon. Leo has identified this as a serious problem and hopes to collaborate with the LAF to raise funds to buy the equipment needed to clear the weapons.