Roar, roar, roar! This is the cheer uniquely associated with the Lions Club at any gathering, which serves to showcase their commitment to achieve their vision and mission of being a global leader in community and humanitarian services, as well as to empower volunteers to serve their communities while promoting peace and understanding.
This is no different for the Belait Lions Club, which has over 40 years of history in aiding the community, especially those residing in the Belait District.
Established in 1976 by 22 close friends and chartered by the Lions Club of Bandar Seri Begawan, the Belait Lions Club has since grown to being 37-member strong.
Talking of Charity
“If a Lions Club is set up here, the Lions Club of Brunei will help with the election of officers and be pleased to give any advice,” said its President Rory Kwek to the first member prior to the formation of the Belait Lions Club.
The Belait Lions Club was formed with Mohan NS as the president, leading the chartered board of directors comprising 21 members, to provide aid to the surrounding communities in the Belait District.
This spirit of helping those in need still runs strong after more than 40 years, as Belait Lions Club President Joseph Teo has attested to, recalling how the efforts made by the club inspired him to join in the first place.
“As the owner of a prescription glasses shop in KB, I was intrigued when 10 years ago I learn that some members had placed a box to collect used glasses to donate to a third world country. Curious, I asked about what they are trying to achieve and, slowly, I learnt more about Belait Lions Club and about a year later, I was inducted as a member of the club.”
Following his induction, he decided to use his expertise as an optician to provide glasses especially for children residing in rural areas, where easily accessible optical care may not be widely available. This became the Sight First Project for the club.
“Vision represents one of five global causes for action in Lions Club, with the others being Diabetes, Hunger, Environment, and Childhood Cancer,” he said.
Going the extra mile
Having joined in 1989, Edmund Chee who currently serves as the Club Advisor, has seen the full extent of how the Lions Club helped benefit and enrich the lives of those in need not only in the district, but across the border and beyond. “Lions Club is more of a collection of friends and that is how I got my start in being a member, as I was similarly intrigued by the fellowship of the members and how they are going the extra mile to help others,” he noted.
After being recommended by a friend to join the Belait Lions Club, he continued to be active in the club, helping to conduct charitable activities over the years before becoming the club’s secretary.
“The activities conducted [by Belait Lions Club] back then caught the attention of the District Governor of the time, after which I was appointed as Zone Chairperson in 2004, which is a respectable position as it oversees various other Lions Club from within the designated zone,” he said.
He also noted that such a position was not easy, but was worth it as he was able to see the full extent of the efforts made by other Lions Club from across the world. He continued to hold such a position twice more a few years down the line.
Planting the seed to a Legacy
Raymond Lee is one of the Chartered members who has been with the club since its inception back in 1976.
He recalled that the club started with a group of 22 inaugural Lions Club members made up of people from all backgrounds, ethnicity and professionals. What bound them together was not only their fellowship, but also sharing the same mindset of serving the community.
“We quickly gelled together and formed such a strong bond that we literally treated each other as family,” he said.
Out of the 22 chartered members, Raymond Lee and Hoon Fong Man are the two standing members who are still active in the Belait Lions Club.
As time has passed, being a Lion has become an identity for the two members, and that it is a title they display proudly wherever they travel.
“It is able to open doors in foreign countries like no other, especially to strangers who call themselves Lions”.
In pondering on the past 40 years of history for him and what the Lions Club of Belait has achieved over the years, Raymond noted that continuing to serve and increase their membership was their goal for the club.
Not only do they contribute in aiding those in need, but also strive to inspire the new generation of Lions to follow suit in building upon the legacy and beyond for the club.
And the Legacy continues
As the Lions Club of Belait is seeing it’s 43 year of service, various community projects are underway by the club members, which includes aiding the residents at the Seria Old Folks Home as well as donating books and computers to schools, all of which represents the toil and efforts made in the interest of helping others.