Touchstone Story #43

Touchstone Story #43

Touchstone Story #43

Club Twinning

Photo Caption: The Grimsby Cleethorpes Lions Club in Gambia works together with twin Lions Club members from Germany, Belgium and Italy. Here, Lions purchase mosquito nets for the Gambian village of Sanyang as a part of their 2014 project.

Lions Clubs International club twinning fosters friendship and understanding by linking clubs across international borders. Two clubs from two different countries enter a formal agreement of friendship and cooperation, working together on mutual mission statements, organizing identical service projects in their respective local communities and even traveling together to another location in need of service that Lions can provide. Whenever possible, club members are encouraged to visit their twin club’s location, attend meetings and stay in the homes of Lions from their twin club.

“In Europe, we all have national borders within five or six hundred miles, along with other languages, old rivalries and a history of hunger, misery, and wars,” said Dr. Rudolf Rahn of Düsseldorf, Germany, a member of the Lions Clubs International Board of Directors from 1962-64. “Thus we consider it our first and decisive duty to overcome such old barriers of blood and hatred and, following the terms of the first Object of Lions International, to create and foster a spirit of generous consideration among the peoples of this old continent.”

The shortest path to understanding strangers is surely by walking in their shoes—or by shaking their hand. Rahn related a secondhand story of a French Lion who reached a more peaceful understanding, not only of himself and his fellows but also of the entire world, through twinning:

“My father was killed in the First World War. I myself was a German prisoner in the Second World War. I thought I could never again shake hands with any German. Then I consented to accompany my club to Wiesbaden, Germany, for a Lions meeting. There I made friends with the German fellow-Lions. Let me tell you that since that meeting my life and the world have been, for me, in order again.”

Club twinning led to another long-running Lions Clubs International program. Seeing the beneficial relationships that came from club twinning, the International Board approved the Lions Youth Exchange Program in 1961. In the first five years, the program would send 2,000 young people ages 15 to 21 to spend a few weeks with a Lions family in another country. Today, thousands of young people participate in the program or attend a Youth Camp, learning valuable leadership skills and meeting the next generation of Lions firsthand. In 2010, the Lions and Leo clubs of Ipoh, Malaysia, and the Lions and Leo clubs of Valenzuela, Philippines, held a formal twinning ceremony and launched a joint hunger relief project to feed homeless children in the Philippines.

Twin clubs have a single purpose: working together to serve.