There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. When Leo Maria José Gutiérrez Araujo (Majo) finished her speech during the final plenary at the FOLAC Forum in La Paz, Bolivia, the entire audience was moved by her dedication to serve children who have cancer. Inspiring people is not easy, but the 17-year-old charter president of the Guanajuato Leo Club in Mexico proved that you can touch the hearts of many at any age.
We, who can help, should do our part for those who need it.
Majo’s story began three years ago when she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. After receiving the scary diagnosis, she and her parents traveled to the hospital frequently for testing to rule out cancer. During her stays in the hospital, she was placed in the children’s unit where young patients were battling cancer. It was there that she saw how much they were suffering.
Majo’s doctors eventually cleared her to leave the hospital after she was found not to have cancer. But her experience inspired her to do something to make the pain that young patients were going through more bearable. She began to consider the idea of launching a campaign against childhood cancer at her Leo club, and made it happen.
Her club’s campaign is called “It is very simple...what is very simple for some is life for others.” The purpose of the campaign is to show how even small acts of service and kindness can mean a lot to children affected by cancer.
During these difficult times during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is reasonable to think that Majo and her club put a hold on serving, but she found ways for her fellow Leos to continue their efforts, such as:
- Collecting hair braids to make oncological wigs to support girls with cancer who lose their hair from chemotherapy treatments.
- Collecting plastic screw caps which are taken to the Regional High Specialty Hospital and/or various foundations so they can be exchanged at a soft drink company for healing materials to support patients.
- Helping transport patients to their chemotherapy treatments.
- Providing bathing suits for children who go through hydrotherapy.
- Raising funds for families who don’t have the resources to pay for funeral costs.
Childhood cancer is one of the least reported service activities from clubs in all constitutional areas. Many Lions want to serve this global cause but don’t know where to begin.
So Majo has a message to inspire Lions. “Some of us have the resources and access to first-class medical care, something that many childhood cancer patients do not,” she says. “They don’t even have the basic medical services and care, or food. Those of us who can help should do our part for those who need it. Not having what we need for our health creates frustration, anxiety and concern as we often don’t know how to address the situation. Lions can help solve this problem by giving a little to the patients who need us.”
If your club would like to serve childhood cancer, please take a look at the childhood cancer service project ideas list. Your kindness to these children will mean the world to them.
Grisell Barraza is a Global Action Team field specialist for Latin America and Europe.