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LIONS MD 28U STATE CONVENTION
MAY 15-17, 2014
Host Club: RICHFIELD LIONS CLUB
HOLLADAY/BELIZE LIONS EYEGLASS PROJECT
In early September of 2013 our club decided to mix the pleasure of a cruise with a humanitarian project to Belize. On Wednesday, January 15, 2014 the Utah Holladay Lions Club in tow with spouses and friends arrived in Belize City after taking a tender to shore from the Norwegian Jewel Cruise Ship. We were there to deliver 550 reader eyeglasses to The Belize Council For The Visually Impaired (BCVI), which is supported by the Belize Lions.
We were met at the dock by Belize Lions President Prakash Chainani and club members. The Belize Lions had their personal vehicles there to give us a short tour of the city and escort us to their building which was next to the vision center.
The city itself originated as a logging camp and export center for mahogany in the 1600’s. Today tourism is the main stimulus to its economy.
In our tour we crossed the Belize City Swing Bridge. We learned it was the only functional manually operated bridge in the world.
Once we arrived at The Belize Lion House and Hostel, President Bill Barton from the Holladay Lions Club presented President Chaninini with pictures and brochures of Utah and then pins were exchanged between the two clubs. We were then ushered to the BCVI surgical and education center. Carla Musa, the Communication Officer greeted us warmly and took us on a tour of the clinic. What caught our attention the most was seeing the operating room. It was relatively a small room, unlike the ones we have in the states. It was equipped with one very old operating table. No full time doctors were there, instead they relied on visiting doctors who stayed several months to perform eye examinations and surgeries. A large part of the funding has come from an LCIF grant. “BCVI is the only organization of its kind in Belize, providing primary, secondary and tertiary level eye care as well as educational and rehabilitative support to children…BCVI is the only eye care provider that offers services on a national level, with five clinics strategically located throughout the country” (BCVI Annual Report 2012, p.3).
After the informative tour, with Belize and Holladay Lions in attendance, a formal presentation of the 550 eyeglass readers were made by past president Steve Clinger to BCVI.
Lion President Chainani and other Belize Lions then took us on a visit to
St. John’s Cathedral which was the oldest Anglican church in Central America. It was constructed in 1812 and has gone through numerous renovations. They say the bricks used on the exterior of the building
were brought by European sailing ships from England. The stone acted as a ballast in the ships. The ceiling beams were from the parts of wrecked ships. On the interior, mahogany wood decorates it beautifully.
Our next stop was to The Government House built in1814, now called The House of Culture Museum. The mansion was designed by British architect Sir Christopher Wren, housed the colonial governors in British Honduras for over 150 years. In 1985 Queen Elizabeth II stayed there. Now it hosts residents and visitors for art and music classes, exhibitions, concerts, meetings, and open air theater.
Finally, we returned to the Belize Club Building where they treated us to a savory buffet. Fourteen of their 50 members were in attendance including PDG Albert Mahler. We mingled with our new friends, took pictures and then we were taken upstairs to see rooms that provides housing for patients visiting the eye center for treatment. They returned us to the dock and we said our heart felt goodbyes.
Our group included Holladay Lions President Bill & Karen Barton, Past President Steve & Cindy Clinger, Steve Gibby, and Murray Lions John & Mary Jo Robinson. We picked up a Texas Lion from the cruise, Tom Cowan, who also joined us on the excursion and visit.
Lions are an international network of 1.3 million men and women in 205 countries and geographic areas who work together to answer the needs that challenge communities around the world.