Recently returned from the Lions International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, Saba Lions Club past President Carl Buncamper spoke of the impact of the international recognition received in validating and reinvigorating local community service efforts. This was written in The Daily Herald. Saba was propelled into the international spotlight of Lionism, being nominated among three finalists for the best Hunger Relief Programme in the world. Buncamper and Rudolph Hassell represented Saba during the 96th annual Lions convention. They joined over 40,000 representatives of clubs across the world to learn from each other’s strengths through workshops and plenary sessions and in joining a 7-hour parade with floats and bands.
Cast among giants, Saba’s Meals on Wheels programme won honourable mention alongside Turkey’s bid, which services a population of some 80 million. China’s hunger efforts among a population of 1.35 billion overshadowed the other two candidates winning first prize. Buncamper received the recognition award presented by Lions international president Wayne Madden on stage. To celebrate the international recognition, Saba Lions Club drafted a new ambitious programme manual for the current Lionistic year during its general assembly on August 6. The club has already asked the Island Governor’s Office for permission to organize a first public movie night on August 24, in newly upgraded Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside. This will be part of a series of matinées catering to a younger audience, to be followed by movie evenings for all age groups. These events seek to bring the community together, attracting youth within a family-friendly environment. Buncamper explained, “The international recognition validates our service efforts, giving us the proof that a programme such as Meals on Wheels is considered worth competing alongside the greats.”
The delegation representing Dutch Caribbean clubs was particularly impressed by the presentation of Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, who spoke on literacy and the rights of a child to education and her country’s role in relief efforts worldwide. They were elated by the Dutch monarchy’s involvement in Lionism and the unprecedented visibility received by the Caribbean region through Saba’s nomination. Lions International, one of the world’s largest service organizations, has over one million members with a wide reach of affiliates, bringing a level of “visibility and priceless recognition that cannot be measured at this time,” said Buncamper. The event was an eyeopener, with inspirational ideas coming from among some 45,000 clubs worldwide and an opportunity to strengthen the worldwide network, he said. The world-stage recognition builds momentum for further growth. “We did very well over the past couple of years, taking a stagnant club and reinvigorating it into one that also coveted the club of the year award within our district,” Buncamper stated. “We proved that bringing new blood into our membership can be done and this will continue to be reflective in future programmes.” Buncamper hopes that Meals on Wheels may expand to those families who cannot afford lunch for school-going children. Saba Lions are discussing with another local organization the option of providing meals to young adults and students during classes. This pilot-project could later be extended, based on assessed needs.