It all started when I was 14 and attending grammar school. I had a friend who was obsessed by what he was doing and spent all his time riding his bike. 15 years later he’s one of the best trial bike riders in the world. Thomas Öhler was my idol to that time and I was starting the process to find out, what makes me unique, what could be the discipline I am the best in. Well: time went by and I had to struggle with my life (a-levels, civil service, university and later my own company). Somehow I felt, that I am this “ordinary” guy with no special skills
*Self portrait during my university in 2004*
When I had a life changing experience in 2010 I decided to change something in my life but I was not really sure what I should do. An almost 2 year lasting process started in which I was thinking about where could I be “the best”. I actually did not really have a hobby to that time but my passion for graphic design and my dream of my little company. When thinking about me and myself I found out that photography was part of my life since 20 or so years to that time. So it was clear for me, that it should have to do with photography. But what should I photograph which nobody else photographed so far? I was very much involved in LEOnism to that time and I started to find out the greatness of this association in all it’s ways. By chance I found an article on the internet which told me, that in 2017 the Lions Clubs International will celebrate their 100th anniversary.
From this moment on, the idea of traveling the world and documenting the passion of LEOs and Lions worldwide followed me every day until I decided to start this project. I had no idea how to make this endeavor come true, but I started to talk to everybody I met, that I’ll be traveling the world until 2017 and will be visiting at least 50 LEO Clubs worldwide. It took me around 1,5 years to get in contact with LEOs around the world and start to my first trip to Italy in 2014.
*The day I started with my first The LEO Book-related trip to Massafra, Italy in autumn 2014*
I changed a lot since I started the project. Every single trip is connected with fears, prejudices, questions, new people, giving up something known and for sure lots of new impressions. Also I do not want to disappoint my friends and readers of the Blog and facebook page. The whole process I’m going through makes me stronger and more self confident, which I actually like very much and never thought it would be possible.
100 projects, 60 Clubs and 25 countries later
Unfortunately I could not travel full time, but I am very proud of what I was able to do within the last three years. I met so many different people and could be part of an amazing movement in many different cultures.
I learnt a lot about LEO and LIONism so I better understand the power and impact of this worldwide community, which I am very proud of being a member in.
People often ask me: “What was your most memorable experience?”. To be honest, I can not answer this question, because every single experience is unique. Every time a person can experience help it’s a heartbreaking and touching moment.
*Feeding project in Manila (Philippines), 2016*
*Fashion show in an airport in Poznan (Poland) organized by LEOs in 2015*
*Organizing a charity paint nite in Kleinburg (Canada) in 2015*
*Donating time and serving as waiter in Bucharest (Romania) in 2015*
Overall I can say that there are so many people out there who are willing to help, who are donating their time without wanting something back. They just want to make other people happier or support their lives.
I would really love to visit and experience more! I would love to meet more LEOs and work even harder in spreading the magic of community service worldwide. Who knows, maybe I’m going for a second issue of the book – there are enough stories to fill dozens more books.
Your name in the book
Yet you have the chance to get your name into the first issue of The LEO Book and save 10€ by pre-ordering it via my website http://www.theleobook.info until June 1, 2017.
The book will be printed in June and revealed during the Lions Clubs International Convention in Chicago in July.
More Projects and Images
You can find more images and articles about projects around the world on my blog at http://blog.theleobook.info/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/theleobook
By Othmar Fetz, MJF