Oak Brook, Illinois, USA, November 12, 2009 – Lions formally dedicated Peng Hua Lions Village in Sichuan Province, China. A total of 80 homes were handed over to families during a ceremony attended by LCIF Chairperson Al Brandel and his wife Dr. Maureen Murphy, Second Vice President Dr. Wing-Kun Tam, nearly 50 Lions clubs members from throughout China and Hong Kong & Macau, and the local vice mayor, other local dignitaries. The dedication marks 1.5 years since the earthquake and is part of a two-phase project to construct more than 150 homes.
“This is a good day for the local people and fellow Lions. I can see with my own eyes the changes that have been made here by Lions,” said Vice President Tam, who led the organizing committee for reconstruction projects.
The village was completely destroyed during the devastating May 12, 2008 earthquake in central China. Lions responded immediately, setting up tents for residents of this village and other hard-hit areas, establishing make-shift schools and providing other needed relief items such as blankets, food and medicine. Through generous contributions from Lions around the world, Lions Clubs International Foundation provided more than US$3 million for long-term reconstruction projects, such the Peng Hua Lions Village.
Many Lions have visited the village over the last 1.5 years, helping with reconstruction, driving supplies, overseeing the building process and ensuring funds were well-spent. Some Lions made the difficult trip over rough roads more than 10 times. A plaque above the door of each home recognizes Lions and includes the Lions logo and reads: “Hand in hand, heart in heart, to rebuild our home.”
“I am enjoying my new life in my new home,” said Nang Chong Chen. Her family of three received a new Lions’ house. They lost everything in the earthquake and lived in tents provided by Lions until the government set-up temporary prefabricated homes.
The village is well-known throughout China for its artwork on the sides of all buildings, drawing thousands of tourists annually. By helping rebuild the village, Lions also helped re-establish the local economy by enabling the return of visitors. One of the rebuilt buildings houses a village gift shop of local handiwork.
LCIF Chairperson Al Brandel and LCIF staff, along with local Lions, first visited the affected areas in July 2008 to assess the needs and discuss long-term reconstruction efforts. Most other reconstruction projects in the area are also completed. Lions rebuilt three primary schools in Gansu Province. The schools were completed in July 2009 in time for the 2009-2010 school year. Lions rebuilt another village, Shinzi Village, near Yangjin, purchasing the land, relocating graves, building a road, and constructing a school, hospital and homes.
This is an update to the initial press release posted in May 2008 on LCIF’s major catastrophe grant award and preliminary plans.
Lions have a long history of working with the Chinese government to provide humanitarian service. Since 2002, Lions Clubs International has been the first and only international volunteer service club organization to be officially recognized by the Chinese government. China's government issued an executive order that was countersigned by the Chinese premier to officially establish two pilot Lions clubs in Shenzhen and Guangdong. Today, there are 2,933 Lions clubs members in 123 clubs in China in addition to 1,430 Lions in 65 clubs in Hong Kong and Macau.
Lions service in China began in 1997 with the SightFirst program. SightFirst is LCIF's blindness prevention program aimed at addressing and reversing preventable blindness. Through SightFirst China Action, LCIF has invested more than US$33 million to build up eye care services and eradicate preventable blindness, which was matched with US$200 million from the Chinese government. Those funds supported nearly 5 million cataract surgeries in China and Tibet, established 104 surgical eye units in rural areas and trained eye health care workers where there previously were none. LCIF is providing sustainable eye care services for rural poor populations.
Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world with 1.35 million members in 207 geographic areas and countries. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times' study as the number one non-governmental organization with which to partner. Learn more about LCIF online at www.lcif.org.