Lions Day at the United Nations
Lions Club International has the honour to be the only service organization who has a permanent seat at the United Nations. Due to this fact, Lions Club organize each year a day at the United Nations in New York and Geneva where Lions from all over the world are invited to discuss specific topics concerning the united nations goals, such as health, environment, equal rights or education. Here you can have a look at the United Nations sustainable development Goals: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
This year the 39th Lions Day at the United Nation was all about health and inclusion and was so far the biggest Lions Day held in the United Nations with over 850 participants, therefore we had the honour for the first time to be at the grand assembly hall in the United Nations in new York. And this year it was special that the panelist for the panel discussion about inclusion and refugees were mostly representatives from Europe. But before coming to the serious part, we also had some fun. The Leo Club program organized a pizza party one night before the United Nations Day to welcome all Leos. In total 150 Leos participated, most of the from the United States but we had the pleasure to have Leo Advisory Panelist Oona Stahle from Finland, International Liaison Officer from the Netherlands Guido Martens and Anna Jacobs and International Liaison Officer Deborah Herlan from Germany onboard. The next day started quite early in the United Nations. After the peace poster winning announcement and an inspiring speech of Special Olympics Chairperson Timothy Shriver, we had the opportunity to listen to the discussion concerning refugees and inclusion. The discussion was moderated by International Director Helmut Marhauer from Germany, on the panel there was the UN representative and Lion from Turkey Tulin Tanrikut, Special Olympic Athlete Mina Emad Fernan Bahgat and his brother Michael and International Liaison Officer Deborah Herlan from Germany.
During the panel discussion we heard the incredible story of Mina who has come in 2009 with his brother and mother as refugees from Egypt to the Netherlands and who has found a purpose in life thanks to Special Olympics. He is doing now ice skating and he won the national Special Olympics in the Netherlands and participated in the world Winter game lately in Austria. See his story here: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=18862032
Additionally International Liaison Officer Deborah Herlan talked about the different activities European Leos are doing for refugees and mostly about the project to include refugees in Leo Clubs and make them feel welcome. Giving refugees the opportunity to be a part of the Leo Club makes it much easier for them to integrate in the community and helps them to understand and learn each countries’ mentalities. The perfect example sets Javad Ahmadi who came as a refugee from Iran and joined the Leo Club in Nürnberg. He is going to be Club president of his Leo Club next year. Here you can find more information about what Leos are doing for refugees and how amazing the European Leo work is: http://lionsclubs.org/blog/2017/01/31/ldun-spotlight-leo-deborah-herlan/
It was a pleasure to have so many Leos participated in the Lions Day at United Nations this year and we sincerely hope to continue this way!