On the initiative of Luc Verschelden (commonly known as Mr. Luke, a long-time, on and off, Gambian resident since 1995), the BYIC Leo Club was able to receive from CLUB DE LEONES DE ALFAZ DEL PI, MARINA BAIXA, in Benidorm, Spain, 1.000 pairs of eyeglasses. Mr. Luke contacted his long-time friend, Mr. Alain Van der Merlen, who has been a LEO and now a LION and has become Zone President for the area of Alicante and Benidorm (Costa Blanca). Alain gladly followed up and contacted the clubs in his zone. They shipped in total 3500 eyeglasses and 500 sunglasses. These items are either new or completely repaired, cleaned and labelled according to their strength. This Lions Club also arranged for the shipping of these boxes via Amsterdam to The Gambia (at their expense). The first recipient of this donation was Lamin Health Center (www.laminhealthcenter.com) which just in the last week set up a state-of-the-art eye-clinic. Mrs. Annemiek De Koning, Director General of this Community Clinic was moved yet delighted to receive the gift and is determined to follow the instructions of the Lions Club in Spain: the glasses cannot be sold! They will be donated as a follow up of a professional eye-exam at their clinic.
Mr. Emanuel Hasan, interim president of BYIC Leo Club said the remaining 2500 glasses and 500 sunglasses will be handed over to eye-clinics up country.
As Mr. Luke explained, it would be so easy for other ex-pats to copy his efforts. “We all know some kind of social club in our home country, be that Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. Why not contact the club of your hometown and ask for help?”