Northern Virginia Lions Team with other Humanitarians have a Profound Impact in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam

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“Our goal was to assist services already established, look for new opportunities, conduct a needs assessment survey and determine ways Lions International could continue fostering relationships and partnerships with likeminded organizations and the government of Vietnam,” stated DG Dennis Kelly.

"Our motto is We Serve, and in Vietnam there are a lot of areas where we can do just that; serve the needs of the communities,” said Council Chairperson Dennis Brining.

After months of planning, 19 local volunteers have returned from their 10-day humanitarian journey to Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. This region has an estimated 625,800 people of which 6,000-10,000 suffer from blindness, low vision or other major eye related medical; problems including glaucoma, cataracts and trachoma.

During this joint medical trip the group conducted sight screenings, distributed eye glasses, assisted in basic hygienic and medical needs and conducted HIV/Aids consultations. Four major locations were designated for these efforts: Charitable Home for the Elderly Homeless Women in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vinh-Linh’s Blind Center, Khe-Sanh Elementary School and the Huong Hoa Association for the Blind, all in Quang Tri.

Additionally, the group met with several Vietnamese organizations to discuss and plan for collaborative efforts over the next several years. The principal effort will include establishing the Dong Ha Eye Care Center as a hub for vision and medical outreach programs to the 8 outlying districts in Quang Tri Province.

Side projects included the planting of 1500 trees and shrubs with children from the Center for Children with Visual Disabilities in Don Ha Town, Quang Tri Province.

The team consisted of Lions Clubs members, Global Community Service Foundation (GCSF) personnel, a Northern Virginia optometrist, and University of Virginia medical staff/alumni and students, among others.

The project leaders included Dennis Brining, of the Fairfax Lions Clubs and current Lion’s Council Chair, and Lion Marcia Selva, founder of GCSF.

The project took almost a year to plan and cost $34,535 to bring to completion. It was Lion Marcia Selva, GCSF founder, who looked to Dennis Brining of the Fairfax Lions for help that got the project off the ground.

“We are excited that Lions Clubs International was willing and is willing to develop relationships with our organization and our partners. This joint effort had a profound impact on the community served given the lack of health and vision services available in Quang Tri Province,” stated Lion Marcia Selva.

Lion Council Chair Dennis Brining, who has worked with other organizations to bring Lions and much needed services internationally, saw the opportunity and contacted Lion District Governor Dennis Kelly.

“After speaking with Lion Marcia, I knew this mission was something we needed to be a part of. As Lions, our focus is to eradicate preventable blindness through education, inoculations and setting up new Lions Clubs to assist in sight and hearing screenings and provide immediate local humanitarian assistance. Our motto is We Serve, and in Vietnam there are a lot of areas where we can do just that; serve the needs of the communities,” said CC Dennis.

Together Lion Brining and Kelly worked with Lions Clubs International to secure an International Assistance Grant of $10,000 to help cover the costs of this humanitarian effort.

“Our goal was to assist services already established, look for new opportunities, conduct a needs assessment survey and determine ways Lions International could continue fostering relationships and partnerships with likeminded organizations and the government of Vietnam,” stated DG Dennis Kelly.

The Lions’ team consisted of Council Chair Dennis Brining and wife, Lion Linda, District 24-A DG Dennis Kelly and wife, Lion Cheryl, Lion Marcia Selva, President of GCSF, Dr. Anh-Thu Phan (Optometrist), former Lion Suzanne Tolson, Director of EMS Programs at Rappahannock Community College, and Lion Ray Guin from District 24-B, a certified Optician.

For more on Lions Clubs International and its impact on combating blindness visit http://www.lionsclubs.org.

Global Community Service Foundation staff and non-staff members in country included: Max Talcott, Vietnam Country Director, Nguyen Xuan Tam, Central Vietnam Representative, Vo Thi Minh Nguyet, Administration Manager, Hoang Tuan Anh, Project Officer, Truong Thi Hai Ha, interpreter, Vo Anh Tri, interpreter, Nguyen Thai Thai Anh, Student Nurse and Nguyen Thi Hang, Student Nurse.

For more information on GCSF and their efforts globally visit http://www.globalcommunityservice.org.

A team of nine senior Alumni and nurses and two senior administrators from the University of Virginia included: Susan J. Goode, Alise Martinez, Rebecca Treakle, Catherine Zuver, Jeni Hauver, Alberta Kimm Nhien Tran, Linda L. Keyser, Thomas Sullivan, Kevin Todd Conley, and Carrie N. Armstrong.

In country support was provided by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Education and Ministry of Health personnel, Doctors from the Quang Tri Medical School, Medical Centers in Huong Hoa, and Vinh Linh, and Dr. Ha, our local ophthalmologist partner (who has been supported and trained by GCSF, the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology and Alcon Industries) who has a clinic in Dong Ha Town.

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Edward Woodard

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Dennis Brining
Lions of Virginia Council of Governors Chairperson
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