Lions Assess Needs of Blind and Visually Impaired in Burma

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The assessment team’s goal is to grow the relationship with SIMA and look for ways that LCIF and GCSF can work together to the benefit of the community and the nation in the future.

"What many people do not know is that we have a network of clubs worldwide ready to assist in natural disasters, and establish schools and hospitals for the blind." Says Lion Dennis Brining.

Lion Council Chair Dennis Brining of the Fairfax Host Lions Club and Lion Marcia Selva, President of Global Community Service Foundation just finished a week long health assessment in Burma.

Taking advantage of Burma becoming more open to the outside world, the two visited several of the country’s organizations that assist the visually impaired.

During the assessment, the team first visited the Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind (MCFB) in Yangon. MCFB is one of eight schools that service approximately 1,000 blind children a year. Sadly, the blind population of Burma is approximately 8-10% of the country’s 60 million people and the schools cannot support additional students.

The Lions team with help from the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) hopes to work closely with MCFB to establish an advanced computer learning center with text to speech translation in Burmese to help better prepare the students for the future and set the stage for the other schools to follow to increase student enrollment.

The second visit was with Dr. Khin Nyein Lin, Deputy Director/Project Manager, Trachoma Control & Prevention of Blindness Program, Ministry of Health, Yangon. The focus of this meeting was to discuss the long term needs of the country and review the Ministry’s Strategic Plan to see where LCIF and the Lions could be of assistance in helping the country achieve its prevention of blindness goals nationwide.    

The third visit was to Sitagu “Metta” Arogyandan Hospital Southern Shan State, Inle Lake. GCSF provided the original financial support to the development and operation of the hospital. Currently the hospital has a 40 bed capacity and is set up to do major cataract operations.

The goal is to make this hospital the central operating location for a future Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Mission. This comprehensive effort would focus on eye screenings, eye glass distribution, cataract operations, diabetes education and outreach, and health related workshops for the community.

Lastly the Lions team met with the Sitagu International Missionary Association (SIMA), in Yangon. The Association manages 18 hospitals, 15 of which focus on vision and blindness prevention. The Association has a team of eye surgeons that travel the country doing operations where needed.

The assessment team’s goal is to grow the relationship with SIMA and look for ways that LCIF and GCSF can work together to the benefit of the community and the nation in the future.

“The assessment in Burma and the recent trip to Vietnam has shown how open the world is becoming. Lions have long been recognized for their work with the visually impaired and blind here in the US. What many people do not know is that we have a network of clubs worldwide ready to assist in natural disasters, establish schools and hospitals for the blind, and even distribute vaccinations to prevent and eradicate diseases like river blindness and measles,” commented Brining.

To learn more about the LCI mission and how to find a local club visit http://www.lionsclubs.org.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

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Edward Woodard
woodywoodard@cox.net
(703) 451-8508
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Dennis Brining
Lions of Virginia Council of Governors Chairperson
703-503-8019
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