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Encounter with the ‘Lions’ that truly care

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“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”

-Albert Einstein

Learning lasting lessons from the hands of history, over the centuries, it becomes patently obvious that the rare act of giving to the less-privileged members of the society is noble, altruistic and ultimately healing to the mind, spirit and soul. Years back, after a moment of sober reflection, yours truly asked himself the critical question: “who are the people most loved, cherished and in fact, still idolized even decades after their death?” The answer came in a spontaneous stream of thought.

Name them: Jesus the Christ, Prophet Muhammed, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jnr., Steve Biko and of course, Nelson Mandela; all lived their lives in the service of others. They sacrificed their priceless time, money, intellectual and physical energy, treasures and freedom so that others could have a taste of a quality of life, deserving of human beings. These are the avatars, the icons and the sages. Few of them are still here with us. Like the tireless termite they build structures for the comfort and convenience of others, most times at their own peril.

But while the great gestures of the aforementioned were largely known and commended to the public, there are others who go literally unsung. For instance, one Richard Rescorla was instrumental to the evacuation of thousands of people during the 9/11 attacks in the United States. As the director of security at Morgan Stanley, Rescorla was a stickler for his building’s safety and held twice-yearly evacuation drills to get people out.

When the attacks happened and the tower next to Rescorla’s was hit, he put his plan into action and calmly instructed people to leave, right up until the moment he was killed. Rescorla’s actions were considered instrumental in the successful evacuation of over 2,500 people! This is not only touching but most inspiring.

It is against this backdrop that we look at the essence of giving back to society by individuals, groups, religious groups, private organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). This is underscored by a recent motivating experience one had with the esteemed members of the Lion’s Club International, specifically in the Lagos/Ogun axis. Led by the distinguished District Governor (DG), Lion Modupe Oba (the first female member to rise to that enviable post) they moved across three local government councils to lend a helping hand where most needed.

At the Healthcare Centre located at Kola-Agbado in Ojokoro LGA of Lagos State, it was the donation of environmental cleaning materials including moping machines, hand gloves, waste paper baskets and floor scrapers. Still on environmental protection, the team moved to the nation’s premier private citadel of technology, Bells University, Ota for the tree planting campaign.

Next was the donation of a yellow-painted ‘Children Crossing’ signage at the St. Saviour’s Anglican Primary School, Ijoko in Ogun State, which had similarly benefited a bore-hole and generator from the same Club, a year earlier. Not far from there was the Ijoko Primary Health care Centre which got a brand new generator and cartons of drugs.

For an NGO working assiduously to uplift the quality of education and healthcare delivery of children and adults, protecting our fragile environment from near collapse and feeding the hungry, sustaining the vision is imperative. For instance, here in Nigeria it has been contributing immensely to the Diabetes Centre at Ekiti State University and the Eye Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH.

As clearly exhibited by Lion Oba and her able team, including the likes of Lion Ishaq Oshinaga, Lion Egbewunmi Olatunji and Lion Ademola Agiri one must have the passion to give; to add value to the lives of others. Only this would assist to lift billions of people from the ignoble pits of poverty, ignorance and diseases. Interestingly, their choice of which institutions or people to lend a helping hand to is evidence- based, on researches carried out on the beneficiaries’ areas of need.

That perhaps, explains why the Vice Chancellor of Bells University, Ota, Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran fully appreciated the Reforestation Campaign embarked upon by the Club as both timely and thematically relevant. More so, when Nigeria is currently facing the fast–spreading menace. According to statistics about 580,841 km2 accounting for 63.83percent of total land is impinged on by desertification. The planting of 10 palm seedlings in the campus and a promise of ten others every other month is therefore, commendable. He promised that the university will go beyond planting to nurturing the seedlings.

Similar appreciation from the Head Teachers 1 and 2 at the school in Ijoko, Mrs. Oladoja Oluyemi and Mrs. Alamutu Oybimpe, respectively and Matron Olaewe Abosede of Ijoko Heath Centre shows the positive impact the intervention in both education and health have had on the people.

And in responding to the call by Oba for more women membership of the Club, Ojediran, unable to hide his admiration stated that: “Wherever there is a woman, there will always be a difference”. That was as the DG insisted that they (the women) can do the job better. He added too that God will surely reward the givers.

The lessons from these laudable gestures are for all to glean from. As the DG rightly noted, Lion’s Club International remains the world’s largest service organisation. Its moving mantra is “Service to Humanity. It was “founded in Evansville, Indiana on 24 October 1916 by Dr. William Perry Woods and subsequently evolved as an international service organization under the guidance and supervision of its Secretary”. It boasts of over 1.7 million members worldwide (as of June 2018).

Notably, theirs is not the lion that parades itself as the king of the jungle, instilling fear to intimidate weaker predators or preys, but those imbued with the lion heart to give to the needy. Their actions are in line with the biblical injunctions that the needy will always be amongst us so we have to stretch out our hands to give. And as Palm 41 verses 1-2 clearly state, “Those who give to the needy are always protected from their enemies”.

Similarly, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Also, from the wise counsel from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give”. That should be food-for-thought for all.

 

Ayo Oyoze Baje

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