How technology is changing healthcare in India

Healthcare in India faces several challenges, including lack of access, low insurance penetration, and a growing burden of chronic diseases. At the same time, traditional business models are struggling to show an attractive ROI, except for a few large vendors. The infusion of technology, along with extensive infrastructure and process efficiency improvements, could help improve the accessibility and affordability of health care, according to experts who spoke about emerging trends in that sector at the Wharton Economic Forum. India 2020, held in Mumbai this month.

Despite its shortcomings, the Indian healthcare sector has a lot to offer on several fronts. A government-led effort to get healthcare providers to adopt electronic medical records is enabling artificial intelligence (AI) to extract information from patient data to provide better treatment. The availability of telecommunications bandwidth enables the medical expertise to reach underserved rural markets through telemedicine and teleconsultation programs delivered via mobile phones.

The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is boosting domestic production of medical devices and helping to lower the prices patients pay for products such as stents and implants, which were imported in the past. At the same time, the political environment and regulators in India must adapt to technological interventions, such as the growth of online pharmacies, with the necessary controls, the panelists said. Innovation in healthcare in India could serve as a global model for a shift from treating the sick to preventive care and wellness, given the size of underserved populations, they said.

Health care has the potential to drive economic growth and jobs, but it is also a critical sector in terms of “protecting the health and wealth of the nation,” said Sangita Reddy, deputy director of Apollo Hospitals, a chain of companies. of health care institutions. and President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India.

Healthcare offers the opportunity to find ways to make health services “more understandable, affordable and accessible,” said Gaurav Agarwal, co-founder and chief technology officer of 1mg, an online pharmacy and digital healthcare platform. The three-year-old company, based in Gurugram in Northwest India’s Haryana state, has already received 85 million customer visits a year to its platform, enabling patients to not only buy medicine, but also make reservations for laboratory tests or medical consultations. .

Healthcare in India is becoming increasingly attractive to investors, with technological innovations helping to penetrate second- and third-tier markets, said Puncham Mukim, managing director of Everstone Capital Advisors in Mumbai. The company has investments in healthcare investment categories, including hospitals and medical device manufacturers, and has invested $ 400 million in recent years, he said.

Change dialog

Describing healthcare challenges in India, Reddy noted that across the entire supply chain, from primary care physicians to tertiary hospitals to government-run facilities, “everyone is working towards incremental access.” . At the same time, he said that the country has “high quality health care” and the private sector provides more than 76% of that care. She described that scenario as “islands of excellence in an ocean of insufficiency.”

“Care is shifting from hospital to clinic, clinic to home, and home to ubiquitous access to care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, powered by the mobile phone.” -Sangita Reddy

A significant portion of the country’s population lacks health care, Reddy said. India has a doctor-to-patient ratio of 1: 10,189, about 10 times lower than the 1: 1000 recommended by the World Health Organization, according to a report from the Center for the Dynamics, Economics and Policy of Disease, Washington, DC- based research organization. The country’s doctor-patient ratio should increase as the number of doctors doubled; India needs three times as many nurses and five times as many paramedics as it does now, she said.

While these challenges are daunting, they present “an incredible opportunity to disrupt traditional models of healthcare,” Reddy continued. She called for a shift from what was traditionally “sick care” to wellness, saying it offers opportunities “to turn the health paradigm around and focus on prevention.” A two-pronged approach: “growing the [healthcare] infrastructure, improving methodology, efficiency and the way we do things; and reducing the burden of disease ”will address supply-side constraints, she said. “If we do these things together, we may not only help solve India’s health problems, but we will also show a model to the world.”

Agarwal noted that India has a chronic disease burden or a non-communicable disease burden of nearly 20% of the population, where nearly 200 million people are chronically ill. Of these, diabetes and hypertension alone affect about 100 million people, and that patient population is growing at a rate of 13% a year, she said. To make matters worse, the percentage of patients who adhere to prescribed treatments is abnormally low, she added.

According to an article from the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, drug non-compliance by patients ranges from 24% for heart patients to 50% to 80% for hypertensive patients. The reasons include complex drug regimens, depleted drug supplies and drug side effects, she noted.

At the Technological Altar

Agarwal saw the technology as the need to address some of the shortcomings and listed a few. “Unlike the West, which has become this huge healthcare-driven healthcare ecosystem, India has a consumer-driven healthcare ecosystem,” he said. “When you go to a hospital, you see patients walking around with their files. Insurance penetration in India is 15%. There is no outpatient insurance, which means that when you see a doctor for your daily needs, there is no insurance of any kind available. So from a cost improvement standpoint, both the payer and the patient are incredibly motivated to figure out how to lower their monthly healthcare costs. ”

At the same time, the patient in India owns the health data – which Agarwal found “extremely fascinating” – it turned out to be the seed of the idea behind the establishment of his 1 Mg online pharmacy. “In the United States, my medical records were digital, but no one had access to that data,” he said, recalling his decade-long stint as an engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. “But in India, we own our data and we think it’s actually pretty cool that people have access to that data.” Such a data-rich country could provide an opportunity to do groundbreaking work on disease progression models and the like, and share it with the rest of the world, he added. “Health care is geared towards the consumer. India will drive that revolution. ”

In September 2018, India launched its National Health Protection Mission called “Ayushman Bharat Yojana” with the aim of providing 100 million poor and vulnerable families (around 500 million beneficiaries) with health insurance of up to Rs. 500,000 each (approximately $ 7,150) for second and third line hospitalization. “From a large swathe of population that was hitherto untreated and undiagnosed, Ayushman Bharat [provides] large swathes of the population the opportunity to get diagnosed,” said Mukim.

However, Mukim noted that there is insufficient capacity in primary and secondary healthcare even in Tier 1 markets, or those with populations of 1,000,000 or more, which are typically major metropolitan cities like Mumbai or Chennai (Tier 2 and Level 3 are governed by smaller and smaller populations). Most of the existing healthcare facilities are in those markets and are also attracting the majority of new capacity investments, she added. However, some pockets realize the need. Hyderabad and Chennai, for example, are no longer “low,” he noted.

A major obstacle to expanding access to healthcare is the mismatch between the capital cost of building hospitals and their ability to generate sufficient returns for investors, Mukim said. Also, approvals and permits to build hospitals take “a long time,” she added. The cost of setting up a hospital doesn’t differ much between markets, whether it’s level 1, 2 or 3, she noted. But patients’ ability to pay is declining from urban to semi-urban and rural markets “because everything is out of pocket” due to lack of insurance, she noted. “There needs to be some help on that [front] to lower the cost of configuring the capacity.”

Tech To Do List

According to Reddy, the first level of technology-driven productivity gains would come from efficiencies. Inventory management would be an important area of focus, as hospitals need to store tens of thousands of different items, she said. The second level is streamlining processes to improve accessibility for patients, she said. “Can they have the predictability of a date? Can you do some basic planning for doctors? Can you minimize the waiting time on arrival? “The application of his company, AskApollo, facilitates around 7,000 daily appointments and guarantees a waiting time for a doctor of up to 20 minutes, except in cases of emergency.

“Approximately 20% of the consultations on 1 Mg are made by an AI doctor. They are as accurate as a panel of six doctors. “- Gaurav Agarwal

The app helps bring a “layer of efficiency across the spectrum,” for example, where housekeeping staff can change rooms more quickly and the admissions desk knows which rooms are available at the touch of a button, Reddy said. Electronic medical records help physicians manage and transfer data about patients. The next layer is establishing care protocols for hospital processes, he said. With such protocols, “for example, the newest Apollo doctor can work with the efficiency of someone with 20 years of experience,” he explained.

Subsequently, electronic medical records (EMRs) can improve service quality, among other things, Reddy noted. “Once you digitize [hospital processes], you can take the collected data, view the results, and create AI models that can be applied across the ecosystem,” he said.

The three Bs of Healthcare

Reddy identified “three Bs” that are changing healthcare. The first is “biology,” where technology can help reduce the cost of genetic testing and enable new business models around targeted treatments, precision medicine and preventive care, he said. Your second ‘B’ refers to ‘bytes’ or the steady decline in computing costs, driven by Moore’s Law (the number of transistors in a microchip doubles every two years, while computing costs drop half during that period). The third front is “bandwidth” in digital communications, which together with India’s increasing teledensity could increase access to healthcare in rural India. It could facilitate tele-supervised surgery, tele-education, telemedicine, and video consultations with physicians. The technology has also contributed to efficiency in areas such as computed tomography (CT), such as better images and faster diagnosis, she said.

Thanks to technology, other changes are also taking place. “I see care moving from hospital to clinic, clinic to home, and from home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ubiquitous access to care, powered by the cell phone,” he said. Reddy.

Agarwal had his own story of technological warfare in which he helped 1 Mg overcome the first setback. As an online pharmacy, the company operated in a two-sided market with patients ordering drugs on one side and pharmacies dispensing drugs on the other. Aside from the major retail chains, pharmacies had digitized their operations, which meant they had little data.

Agarwal had his own story of technological warfare in which he helped 1 Mg overcome the first setback. As an online pharmacy, the company operated in a two-sided market with patients ordering drugs on one side and pharmacies dispensing drugs on the other. Aside from major retail chains, pharmacies had digitized their operations, meaning they had little data on the drugs they were transporting. India is a brand-name generic drug market with 80-100 brands “for every drug discovered,” which translated into 1Mg monthly demand on the platform for up to 25,000 unique drugs per month, Agarwal said. “An average pharmacy only has 3,000 of those [25,000 drugs] in stock, and they didn’t know what 3,000 they had in stock,” he added. “They knew the top 100, but they didn’t know anything after that.”

An artificial intelligence-based predictive inventory model that developed 1 Mg found a way out of its frustrating experience of trying to match consumer demand with pharmacy supplies. The model worked on two simple assumptions, but it worked well for 1 Mg. He guessed that if a pharmacy did actually dispense a particular drug in one week, it would probably do so in the next. Likewise, he assumed that if a pharmacy did not deliver a particular drug in one week, it was unlikely to sell it the next week. “That was the first use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in our system, where we actually achieved fulfillment rates of 75% to 85%, based on zero inventory accuracy from our suppliers,” said Agarwal.

When 1 Mg later added diagnostic testing services to its offering, it once again took advantage of technology in the form of a mobile app that allowed patients to make reservations online. Phlebotomists who use it to collect blood samples follow a specific protocol and use barcode labels with patient identification information that they stick on the collection bottles. Telemedicine is another 1mg technology-driven quest, and it’s producing nearly 5,000 a day, Agarwal said.

The company also built an artificial intelligence model for medical practices. The AI doctor presents a diagnosis and treatment plan that does not share 1mg with the patient. Instead, he shares it with a real doctor, who then validates or invalidates it. “About 20% of the 1 Mg consultations are made by an AI doctor,” says Agarwal. “They are as accurate as a panel of six physicians with varying levels of experience in [a particular field].”

The unique characteristics of Indian healthcare require customization. For example, handwritten prescriptions are common, and 1 Mg uses an artificial intelligence machine to decipher about half of that data, leaving it ready for further analysis. “Much of the healthcare technology in India was actually only in the west,” Agarwal said. “The challenge is that the ecosystem in India is very different. Now we are starting to see healthcare technology that is very focused on India.

“The [Government of India] ‘Make in India’ campaign has really worked for medical devices.” -Puncham Mukim

Despite the technological innovations of online pharmacies like 1Mg, they have been frowned upon by regulators and Indian courts, spurred on by public interest litigants. The latest hurdle came last November from the Indian drug controller, which issued an order to stop selling drugs online until regulations were put in place. “Every three days, complaints are filed against online retailers who say they sell drugs without a prescription and should be discontinued,” says Mukim. The reality is very different, he argued. “If you go into a traditional pharmacy in India, you could probably get an OTC drug 50% of the time. [However], if you try to shop at the larger online pharmacies, there is a 0.01% chance that you can get drugs without a prescription People who break the rules create a nuisance for those who follow the rules, and the cost of following the rules is very high There must be a policy framework [to regulate online pharmacies]; we have been waiting a long time ” .

Mukim fought for India’s emerging online pharmaceutical retail business, saying that he has achieved market penetration in three to four years that traditional pharmacies have not. “[Online pharmacies] have gone deep into the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets,” he said. “The availability of medicines has been a big problem in rural areas of India and they have solved that problem.”

In other parts of the healthcare sector, regulators appear to be right. Three years ago, India’s drug regulator carried out price controls on coronary stents, slashing prices by around 85% (it has cushioned marginal increases since then). “The cost of manufacturing a drug-eluting stent is Rs 6,000 to 7,000 ($ 85 to $ 100), but it was sold for Rs 150,000 ($ 2,140) in India,” Mukim said. In commercial channels and “clinics that have been hand in hand with them to increase the cost for patients.” The maximum stent price has given a huge boost to domestic stent manufacturers, and they are now supplying their products to various multinational companies as well. he added.

Mukim noted that India’s lower prices for healthcare compared to developed countries have made it attractive to international patients, especially those from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Investors like Mukim appreciate the disruptive effect of price caps on stents and are seeing the first signs that that mindset is spreading elsewhere in healthcare. Domestic stent manufacturers have begun supplying Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets that have hitherto been overlooked, he noted. More catheterization capacity is being added to the industry as lower prices have fueled a business boom for diagnostic services, he added. In addition, increasingly advanced technology in drug-eluting implants and stents is beginning to arrive in India, and foreign manufacturers of such devices are looking to establish capacity in India, he added. “The [Government of India] ‘Make in India’ campaign has really worked for medical devices.” He submitted a request to regulators to adjust the structure of import duties for high-quality medical equipment in particular.

Normative and policy guidance

Data privacy is the next frontier for Indian healthcare providers to prepare for. Data privacy in healthcare is covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, which came into effect in May 2018, and under so-called HIPAA rules in the US Agarwal said that India needs data privacy rules, “but not at the level of, say, HIPAA or GDPR.” He suggested “something much more reasonable and that takes into account the growing needs of the country.”

Reddy said, “An appropriate level of data privacy [regulation] is not only good for healthcare companies, it is also good for the country and is essential.” Ideally, data privacy regulations should also recognize the benefits that analytics can bring. Reddy called for a focus on “data capture standardization,” to avoid information being siled between different organizations. “That lack of standards will prevent us from collecting our data and building new predictive models,” he said.

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How To Choose The Best Healthcare Outsourcing Services Company

With an aging population living longer. With ever-diminishing margins for profits. With ever increasing pressure to digitize existing records. With ballooning regulations. With skyrocketing costs and an uncertain insurance environment. With threats to decrease funding of government legacy healthcare programs.

In other words, with across the board rising costs and decreasing profits, how can a healthcare provider- whether a large hospital group, or a group practice, or an urgent care walk in, or a non-profit clinic- get and stay active, and even thrive in this cut-throat environment?

Consider the options available from a Healthcare BPO Services firm.

Many in the Healthcare Sector concentrate on their patients- staying on top of the latest treatments and medications. The majority of their staff does as well. So, it”s probably no surprise that Medical Billing is near the bottom of the list of priorities.

On average, 70-80% of patients owe a minimum of $500 to their healthcare providers. More than 45% of patients owe $1000. If a bill is not eventually paid or settled, the expense of treatment will NEVER be recovered. Is it inevitable that you incur this loss? While not supplanting patient care as the #1 priority, billing and payment IS IMPORTANT and should be treated as such. So WHY do medical practices continue to lose money on the process when there is an alternative. Healthcare Outsourcing Companies. Many practices and hospitals chose to Outsource Healthcare Solutions and save both time and money.

Think about this: if you could hire a team of professionals with an outstanding track record in Billing, Customer Service and Collections, and do this at a fraction of the cost as your in-house process, wouldn”t you?!?!

The answer is right in front of you. Healthcare Outsourcing.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Healthcare Services

Some advantages of Outsourcing Healthcare Services from Rely Services that can be utilized by Physicians and the Healthcare Industry :

Cost Effective : Streamline billing by creating a central point for all billing and accounts receivable
Expertise : Our team stays up to date on changes in Private Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental, Government Plans and The Affordable Care Act policies and practices. Your office d doesn”t have to monitor the changes in the Insurance Industry
Reduction in Staff Acquisition : Taking these processes out of your office and into ours will reduce your staff and employment overhead
Less Administrative Overhead: The resources you once spent on billing information flow can be used on training and staying up to date on the latest medical technologies and practices
Increase Revenue : Trans Promotional marketing is an advertising technique which is added to bills. This marketing strategy is very efficient for businesses and organizations as they can promote vaccines, any medical events or even any related information on bills. This advertising strategy can prove to be very effective for medical organizations to get the customers to return to the business and is just one e example of the benefits of outsourcing billing.
Change In Methods : As there are constant changes in the Medical Billing Industry, following the rules would be a time-consuming process for any medical firm. When billing requirements are handled by outsourcing services you” re using only the latest trends and operations in the market place.
Safety and Reliability : Rely Services has a very Secure and Reliable billing process. We protect your information from any hacking and unauthorized access to you database. Data is confidentially stored and we have the Security and Infrastructure for a Successful Healthcare Services operation.
Systematic Approach : Giving access to the third party for maintaining your responsibility can really reduce your workload. Transparency and Accountability between Rely Services and your firm will be maintained.
Improved Patient Care : Patients no longer need to worry about their financial issues as they are managed by the professional outsourcing service providers. This leaves your office staff to spend more time on patient care.
How to Choose the Right Outsource Healthcare Company?

Outsourcing the business side of your practice will make a huge change in the efficiency your operating costs.

A Healthcare Outsource Firm can give your billing process TOP PRIORITY from day one. BPOs have a proven track record increasing income and cutting costs for healthcare providers world-wide. It”s both the easiest and quickest way for your medical practice to see new levels of profitability.

The majority of medical practitioners agree that their billing and collection processes have errors. These errors mainly occur due to not taking pre-authorizations correctly or not submitting all the information to insurance companies along with the billing.

A consistent, persistent approach is key to collecting from patients whose accounts are payable or past due.

Why not put this vital function in the hands of professional?

Today, Rely Healthcare Outsourcing is providing world class service to their clients. Using the latest technical innovation and expertise, Rely Services can offer:

Cost Efficiency: Outsourcing Medical Billing keeps billing flowing in an effective way, getting bills out quicker, getting payments back sooner and with less expense
Infrastructure and Technologies : Rely Services uses only the latest in hardware and software. Our professional staff constantly updates their training, keeping your business at the forefront of both technology and best industry practices. Our infrastructure is well maintained and self-sufficient, with both back-up power and storage. We”ve never had a data loss or at-fault service interruption.
Workforce : It”s a fact that Rely Services” professionals are less prone to errors in insurance coding and patient contact. We hire only the most competent, English proficient staff. We have a rigorous training regime, and are periodically upgrading their training and certification. With our dedicated team handling your billing and other back office tasks, your practice can be more efficient and cost effective. The money saved can be used to improve patient care and upgrade equipment and services.
Service Quality : We will evaluate your current services and where necessary, refine or bring on new methods to improve the quality and quantity of patient related services
Industry Expertise : Insurance, both private and government, seems to constantly change their methods and requirements. To stay on top of the latest regulations that WILL impact the payment schedule was a full-time job in itself. With Rely Services, your practice can leave that task to someone else. We guarantee our ability to stay on top of changes and not lose any time or money because of our mistakes.
Safety And Reliability : Well established outsourcing companies have a very stable and secure billing process. At Rely Services pride ourselves on the security of our systems, protecting the client”s sensitive information from any hacking or unauthorized access to their database. Their data is confidentially stored and has the safety and infrastructure for a client”s confidence. And we are also HIPPA Compliant, protecting patient privacy.
Have Control : Giving us the responsibility for maintaining your medical billing services will reduce your workload. Transparency and accountability between Rely Services and your medical firm will be maintained.
Customer Support : We will be the voice and face of your billing, receivables service, and we take that responsibility seriously. We”ll mirror the same consideration and care that your patients find in your office.

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Comfortable fabrics suitable for hot summer days

Cotton is a soft, lightweight, breathable fabric that absorbs sweat and allows heat to escape the body, allowing you to keep cool. Cotton garments are available in a wide range of styles and colors, so you may pick one to suit your needs. There are also a multitude of cotton blends available, each with its own set of characteristics. Cotton wrinkles easily, but a cotton polyester blend eliminates the need to iron. Cotton, on the other hand, has several drawbacks. If you sweat a lot, cotton absorbs moisture and can become heavy and damp, as well as reveal moisture staining.

Another great option for a breathable fabric to wear in hot weather is linen ladies clothing online. It’s also lightweight and loosely woven, allowing heat to exit the body. It swiftly absorbs moisture and dries, keeping you cool and dry. It is stiff, but this also means that it does not adhere to your body. Linen wrinkles a lot, yet many people appreciate it and accept it as part of the style and appearance of linen. Mulberrys provides high-quality linen washing for your household things such as bedsheets and pillowcases, as well as dry cleaning for your summer wardrobe.

Rayon is a fabric manufactured from a combination of cotton, wood pulp, and other natural or synthetic fibers. It was created to be a less expensive alternative to silk (which also makes silk a good summer fabric). Rayon’s tiny fibers allow it to breathe better than other textiles and give it a lightness that keeps it from clinging to the body in hot weather. Rayon is an excellent fabric for athletic and summer outfits because it is so pleasant and cool to wear. While rayon is a fantastic fabric for hot weather, it will shrink if washed in hot water.

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Suffering – Age-Old Problem and Present Reality

Suffering is a very old phenomenon incontrovertibly affects everyone. Ever since Eden’s gates closed upon the heels of our former ancestors, Adam and Eve, man has been a sufferer. Fergusson aptly noted that “the reality of suffering, especially that of the helpless or innocent, is a problem for anyone who posits the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent Deity” (Fergusson 1988, 667). In other words, “there is suffering, evil, pain, grief, death and depression in the world. It touches everyone’s life at some point” (Simundson 1980, 13). My paternal grandmother has suffered tremendously, burying four of her seven children in the order in which they were born at the time when they were breadwinners in the family. Child A, B, C and D (names withheld) respectively died at the ages of 27, 25, 30 and 42 years in 1968, 1972, 1980 and 1997.

THE INEVITABILITY OF SUFFERING

The twentieth century has witnessed a volume of human misery and suffering of unprecedented proportions. In the face of this enormity, “philosophers and theologians have continued to grapple with the enigma of evil and suffering” (Atkinson and Field 1995, 824).

It seems understandable when the guilty suffer but it is a mystery when the righteous is not also immune. Paradoxically, “Abraham is tested, Joseph is afflicted, Moses is plagued, David is persecuted, Job is harassed, Elijah is hated, Jeremiah is driven from home, Daniel is thrown to the lions, Stephen is stoned, Paul is imprisoned” (Berner 1973, 75-76). This frankness about suffering does not only belong to the occasional works of the collection of writings that we call the Bible. It is to be found not only in Job, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Lamentations and many of the Psalms but rather informs the whole story. Realistically, “what is from one vantage point the history of Israel’s providential deliverance from evil, oppression and extinction is, from another, the story of Israel’s continuous degradation of suffering” (Hall 1986, 32).

An incontrovertible truth is that “suffering is real, and is the lot of humanity as we know it” (Hall 1986, 75). In January 2002, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah declared an end to the decade-long civil war that had crippled Sierra Leone. The war, fuelled by a power struggle primarily between the government and rebel forces led by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) over territory, conflict diamonds and politics, brought a decade of attacks on civilians, which resulted in the dislocation of over four million people who were forced either to flee to neighbouring countries or become internally displaced. The sufferings of Sierra Leoneans during the eleven-year rebel war (1991-2002) were unimaginable. In addition to hunger and starvation, arms and limbs were amputated, and babies were stripped off the back of mothers and thrown into burning houses.

The researcher has a friend (a committed Christian) who was raped by seven rebels. As Sierra Leone emerges from the trauma of civil war, its people are now faced with the challenges left by a decade of human rights abuses and the conflicts which plagued the region. During the past decade, Sierra Leone witnessed several egregious violations of human rights, stemming from the war. Among them were child abuse, violence against women, and arbitrary arrest, detention and execution, to name a few. The conflict in neigbouring Liberia used to affect the Sierra Leonean people. As Sierra Leone struggles to recover from this decade of tragedy, one way the citizens are suffering is the lingering effects of the past.

The sad reality is that wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters and ultimate death are never easy to rationalize. Cancer, kidney failure, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome, cerebral palsy, divorce, rape, loneliness, rejection, failure, barrenness, widowhood and countless other forms of human suffering produce inevitable questions that are on the lips of both sinner and saint.

Some of these include the following:

1. If God made a perfect world, why is the righteous suffering?

2. Does God want his people to suffer?

3. If not, why did He allow it?

4. If God is omnipotent, why can’t He stop suffering?

5. If God can stop it but does not, is He malevolent?

6. How can a loving God stand by inactive?

The above questions, always present in the minds of people in general and the researcher in particular, challenged the latter to direct one to look for appropriate answers in the Bible.
One can safely assert that “we live in an epicurean age where nobody wants to suffer” (Airiohuodion 1996, 54). Consequently, “we often regard suffering as if it’s to be avoided at all costs, yet it’s often the best display of a life transformed by Christ” (MacArthur 1991,12).

There is another dimension to suffering. In Paul’s day, when a man became a Christian, he knew what he was getting into. To choose Christ meant to choose trouble. It’s still that way although many Christians today don’t seem to realize it. From about A.D. 100 with Emperor Nero until A.D. 12, “the church experienced ten periods of intense persecution at the hands of Roman emperors” (Horton 1993, 11). These included Nero (A.D. 54-58), Domitian (A.D. 81-96), Trajan (A.D.98-117), Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180), Septimus Severus ((A.D. 193-211), Maximimunus (A.D. 235-238), Decius (A.D. 249-251), Valerian (A.D. 253-260), Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) and Diocletian (A.D. 284-305). Eusebius account could be realistically applied to nature of the suffering of the saints:

We ourselves also beheld, when we were at these places, many all at once in a single day, some of whom suffered decapitation, others the punishment of fire; so that the murderous axe was dulled and, worn out, was broken in pieces, while the executioners themselves grew utterly weary and took it in turns to succeed one another (Frend 1984, 481).

The attitude of the early martyrs is worth mentioning. Persuaded that neither death, nor life would separate them from the love of God, these Christians obeyed the Word of God ‘in spite of’ and not ‘because of’. Counting every opportunity to suffer as joyful, they were confident that God meant it for their good. Since they did not want Jesus to be ashamed of them in the last day, they were not afraid of man who can only kill the body. They were told that their lives would be spared if they would just reject the name of Christ. However, they were prepared to die one by one since they could not renounce His name. At the very hour of death, these martyrs pledged allegiance to the lamb seeking to honour Him instead. This amazed Eusebius who completed his narrative with this inspiring tribute :

Thus, as soon as sentence was given against the fire, some from one quarter and others from another would leap up to the tribunal before the judge to confess themselves Christians; paying no heed when faced with terrors…but undismayedly and boldly speaking of the piety towards the God of the universe, and with joy… receiving the final sentence of death; so that they sang and sent up hymns and thanksgiving to the God of the universe even to the very last breath (Frend 1984, 481).

Christianity however became a tolerated religion in the time of Constantine. Indeed, “to Constantine, the best course was not to suppress Christianity” (Noll 1997, 51) but “restoring to the Christians the liberties they had possessed before the persecution” (Frend 1984, 475). This religious toleration produced several changes. Constantine ordered that Sunday was to be a public holiday similar to other pagan holidays. This made possible wider development in worship and larger congregations in the churches. Realistically, greater leisure meant that Christian festivals tended to multiply. This underscores the point that Christians generally do not want to suffer.

Queen Elizabeth I could be compared to Constantine since she also did not follow the footsteps of Queen Mary (alias bloody Mary). Although “the dreadful fires continued for a while longer in Spain and the countries within her grasp, with the ending of the reign of Queen Mary, the history of English martyrdom was brought to a close” (Foxe 1989, 200).

SUFFERING IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES

The researcher suspects that the relatively peaceful atmosphere in which Christians worship today could be a contributing factor to the fact that they are not willing to suffer. Everyone seems to claim the sweet side of Christianity. The word ‘sweet’ added to ‘fellowship’ in the grace we normally and meaninglessly recite therefore shows how the contemporary Church views suffering. The theology in the church today is to that of prosperity. However, “… between ‘thus says the Lord’ and ‘it came to pass,’ there are several bridges to cross and several mountains to climb” (Madugba 2002, 50).

In the introduction of his book titled Long life : your heritage, the writer observed that “this book sets out to show one thing: that long life is the heritage of the born again. It sets out to teach that the believer has a choice in the matter of his departure from his earthly tabernacle. The believer can claim victory over death. It is one of his covenant rights. Even though it would be a bit farfetched to disagree with the above, the researcher suspects that the suffering-free or problem-free life can only be lived in heaven. Besides, “to claim that God wills our prosperity at all times may not always be true” (Airiohuodion 1996, 60).

The theology of suffering in the contemporary church is also reflected in song. Before the 1980s, choruses emphasized personal confession of faith in Christ and willingness to take up the cross to follow Him. The fact that people don’t want to suffer today is clearly reflected in the songs, slogans and posters advertising for breakthrough. A popular chorus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria (three West African nations geographically apart) is “Mi a nor go sufa, a nor go beg for bread; God of mirakul, na my Papa o”. The English translation is “I will neither suffer nor beg for bread; my Father is the God of miracle”. This tendency to avoid suffering at all cost has led to the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ which stresses faith in claiming blessings as they name them. At the risk of oversimplification and distortion, this gospel teaches, among other things that:

1. Every Christian is created to be materially and financially buoyant.

2. Christians who are in a state of prolonged financial predicament are ignorant of God’s design.

3. For the manifestation of the reversal of breakthrough, the aspirant must demonstrate his expectancy by blessing the ‘man of God’ first (Awoniyi 2004, 2).

Christians are therefore encouraged not to accept suffering as their portion. Anyone who is suffering is either living in sin or is not standing on the promises of God for his showers of blessing. Hall realistically observes that “there is in fact a general distaste in both society and church for interpretations of human suffering which make use of the idea of sin in a causative sense” (Hall 1986, 75).

PAULINE RESPONSE

The above misconception of the concept of suffering in the contemporary church seems to be contrary to II Corinthians 1:3-7.

Paul gives the praise to the Father for His faithful provision of comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5). This God is Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to save rather than judge the world. He is the God who, among other things, anointed our Lord Jesus Christ to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and comfort all that mourn. He is also the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. Mercy originates from Him and can only be secured from Him. The words ‘all comfort’ indicates that there are neither limitations nor deductions. God’s mercy results in the comfort He shows.

He comforts us in all tribulation and intends for believers who receive the comfort to extend that comfort to others. ‘All’ indicates every single one – not one Ieft out. Although Paul was referring to a specific set of Christians, by implication or extension, all readers of the epistle are included. It is perhaps easy to mention many beautiful things about God being the God of all comfort; however, unless one knows what it is to be truly comforted, it will be difficult to comfort others. God, the comforter, is not far off in a distant heaven where Christians cannot find Him. It is realistic to state that Rick Warren’s ‘painful experiences’ could be one way God prepared him for ministry. A pastor, John Regier, who conducted a seminar in pastoral counseling at West Africa Theological Seminary, Lagos, Nigeria in August 2004 testified that he is now in a better position to comfort someone who is depressed because he went through depression for twenty years and has received the comfort of God. God does not waste pain. He therefore comforts Christians for a purpose. Having received the comfort of God, they are expected to be conduits of that received from God, not storehouses. Paul in verses three and four illustrates that the ability to praise God in the midst of suffering therefore could only come from an experience of the strengthening comfort of God.

Interestingly, comfort is increased when sufferings are increased. The fifth verse provides the reason why suffering equips the Christian to receive God’s comfort. Whenever Christ’s sufferings were increased in Paul’s life, there was a corresponding increase in God’s comfort through the ministry of Christ. This means that the greater the suffering, the greater the comfort and one’s ability to this divine sympathy with others who are suffering. Perhaps it is a strange conjunction to juxtapose suffering and comfort. Presumably this is more strange when they are put together in the relation of cause and effect, and the latter emerges from the former as springs have been loosened by the earthquake at Messina, as volcanic influences are productive of conditions that feed the most luxurious vines. Realistically, the teaching that links suffering and comfort, the volcano and the vine, affliction and emancipation is preeminently significant of the Christian religion. One can only obtain the wine of life through the crushing of the grapes. Affliction introduces one to the juices and manna.

Christ is the leader and sublime Example of suffering. Christians are not expected to always have very easy lives since Jesus Himself knew titanic suffering. It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by the cultivation of an insignificant life. However, when one wants to fulfill Christ’s purpose, sufferings will then be increased.

The central idea in verses six and seven (part of which is in the fourth verse) deals with suffering and the Christian community. Paul, after experiencing an overflow of Christ’s suffering, knows the strengthening of His comfort. Experiencing suffering itself is the basis for assisting others. Suffering is therefore not necessarily an accident. God designs the affliction of spiritual leaders to minister to the affliction of the flock. The welfare of the Corinthians would be promoted by the example of the apostles in their own trials and the resulting consolations they would be able to pass on as a consequence of their afflictions. Christians shall therefore rejoice together if they suffer together.

A clear understanding of the Pauline concept of suffering as contained in the passage examined, (II Corinthians I:3-7) and an examination of the contemporary trend reveals that Paul’s idea is unpopular. This unpopularity is seen in the various interpretations given to suffering by Christians today.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Although the church has responded to the suffering of the people in Sierra Leone, there is more to be done. Programmes on forgiveness and reconciliation should be on-going rather than one-sided. With the message of Paul at the background, Christians who suffered in different ways must be instrumental in assisting those who are suffering since they have been comforted to comfort. The sacrificial duty of the church, its suffering, should become a work of love and redemption. Even before comforting those who are suffering, the inescapable nature of suffering must be realized. Bhikshu is quoted of saying that.

To be born is to suffer; to grow old is to suffer; to die is to suffer; to loose what is loved is to suffer; to be tied to what is not loved is to suffer; to endure what is distasteful is to suffer. In short, all the results of individuality, of separate self-hood, necessarily involve pain or suffering (Bradley 1969, 699).

Consequently, the church must be thankful to God like Paul in the passage studied, praising God in spite of and not necessarily because of since suffering is inevitable. If the Church lives and moves and have its being in Jesus, then it must be ready to suffer.

The issue of shared comfort is very crucial to the church’s understanding of Paul’s thought and motivation not only in the passage reviewed but the entire letter of II Corinthians. Jesus ought to be the medium of comfort and suffering as Paul suggests in II Corinthians 1:5. As Christians identify with Christ, they must be prepared to suffer with Him.

Although the church should not go about ‘witch-hunting’ or searching for suffering, it must be regarded as part of the divine appointment when it comes. This is important even in James 1:2-4 where ‘trials’ and ‘testing’ are used. Fellowship should be seen as a vital relationship between Christians. They will rejoice together since they also suffer together. Paul made the Corinthians understand this mutuality of suffering and comfort.

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Dating In America – Past and Present

In today’s world dating is a common word among people who love to post their profile and upload their photographs on social networking sites, friendship sites and/or dating sites. But even before the evolution of the Internet, people were familiar with dating in a more traditional way. Dating has evolved from supervised dating to one night stands. A brief history on dating in America will help us to know more about the differences of dating between past and the present times.

Until the early 1800s, marriages were considered more seriously than dating; marriages were based on social standings and not based on couple’s attraction or “love at first sight”. The late 1800s saw a transition in dating as it became more formal. Approval from parents was needed. At this time dating was synonymous with romantic relationship or courtship.

In the early 1900s dating between couples were supervised by their parents. Guardians observed the interaction and discussion between couples. The girl’s mother invited the boy to her house and chaperoned the meeting. This period witnessed a trend in public dating.

The mid 1900s saw a great change in the style and values of dating, People came to know about each other through dating and were more influenced by their peers and they determined the rules of dating. People were more influenced by movies and advertisements. There was no “supervision” and interactions between couples were without any commitment. Dating became synonymous with dancing as dancing on the first date was considered for a more serious relationship.

Dating became common among high school students during the 50s and the 60s as there were more weekly dating, exchange of phone calls and physical intimacy which led to early marriages among couples. Prior importance was given to love and this was considered as a main reason for a happier marriages.

Presently dating has become more synonymous with infidelity as married couples are having affairs with either their colleagues or “old school friends”. Thanks to the online revolution and transition in thinking!

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How to Create and Deliver a Winning Business Plan Presentation That Will Get You Money

If you’re finishing up your business plan and starting to think about presenting it to potential investors and lenders, you MUST spend quality time and energy preparing your presentation. The business plan represents you and your company; it doesn’t have to be in a gold embossed leather binder with four color photographs but it does have to look professional. So after you have written the final edit of your plan, ask yourself these questions:

Does the it include a title page with your company name, a person’s name and the address and phone numbers? Don’t just clip a business card to the front page, it could get separated.

Has your plan been proofed and spell checked? And by a real person, not just your word processor?

Did you check all abbreviations or acronyms to make sure the first time they’re used they’re explained, ie., World Wide Web (www)?

Have you gone through the plan to make sure all technical terms are explained?

Are the pages numbered?

Do the page numbers for the index match the actual page numbers?

Have you edited the plan to see what you can include in the Appendix rather than in the body of the business plan?

Has someone unfamiliar with your company read the business plan and understood it?

Is your executive summary limited to no more than 3 pages?

Have you had someone unfamiliar with your company read just the executive summary and understand your company?

Are your margins at least one inch wide on each side, top and bottom?

Is your font size at least 11, preferably 12?

If you are using a word processing system which allows color graphics, have you changed the color graphics to grayscale for printing? Or will you be printing the business plan in color?

Have you checked to make sure you didn’t use too many fonts and font sizes?

Have you taken advantage of bullet points, shading, indents, and borders to add visual interest to your business plan? (Just don’t go overboard.)

Do you make judicious use of graphs, charts and graphics to make your points? If not, consider making the extra time to add these in – if you need help, get a staff person to research or create the graphics you will need. And make them color, if possible, for better effect.

Is the use of your page titles and headings consistent in format throughout the business plan?

You can print your business plan on both sides of the paper, just make sure it’s printed on quality paper so that the printing doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

If you are using duplicating or copying services to print your business plans, is the quality nearly perfect?

The main thing to consider it: When my prospective funder picks up this booklet, will they be drawn in? Will it be pleasing to the eye and engaging of the mind? Follow these tips and your business plan will indeed have these effects and more for your intended target – possible investors, partners or buyers.

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Systemize Your Sales Presentation For a More Successful Outcome

Regardless of the industry you are in or what your job title is it is likely you are in sales. My belief is that we are all in sales, selling a product, service or idea. The success of your business and life is directly proportional to your ability to sell and market.

Contrary to what some people may think, sales is NOT manipulation. It is strategic influence. To move your customer closer to what they want or need you would be well served to follow a sequence to systemize your sales presentation.

I have been using a systemized sales presentation for years with a great deal of success. This did not happen by chance. I invested in courses, have had mentors, read books, went to seminars and hired consultants to teach me how to be as effective as possible. The result? I have one of the most successful businesses in my industry.

I do not tell you this to try to impress you. Rather, I share this with you because I see many people who have incredible potential who are not living up to their potential. They seem to settle for “getting by.”

The fact is, with proper training and a willingness to grow you can be incredibly successful in sales no matter what industry you are in.

In sales, there are four primary areas to address:

Attention

Interest

Desire

Action

Before someone will make a decision to purchase your product or service, you absolutely must get their attention. From there, you need to peak their interest.

Each step links to the next and it is important to follow the sequence in order to increase your closure rate. It is more difficult to get Desire and Action if you do not gain Attention or generate Interest.

Another aspect of a systemized sales call is to script out your process. It is not about being mechanical; rather, it is about making sure you are thorough in your process.

Following a sequence and scripts helps you develop a Systemized Sales Call and your unnatural behavior becomes natural behavior. You develop unnatural natural behavior.

Before you try to sell anything, you need to know what the customer wants and needs. You do this by way of asking questions. It is likely you will ask questions throughout the sales process. Depending on what type of product or service you are selling, the sales cycle may be very short or it could be something that happens over a period of time.

To generate Interest, show the customer what you can do for them. To cultivate Desire, know the questions your customer will ask and answer the question according to the customer’s communication style. One question could be answered three or four different ways depending on who your customer is and how they communicate.

When value has been established and the customer will truly benefit, we have an obligation to help them to say, “Yes.” We also have an obligation not to sell something to someone who really doesn’t need it or will not benefit from it. It is far nobler to walk away from a sale than to sell someone something they don’t need or want.

True professionals acknowledge they are in this for the long haul. It is not a matter of simply selling to be selling. It is knowing your product or service can, and will, make a difference to those you come in contact with. It is about strategic influence

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The Three Letter Approach to Proposals and Presentations

Three letters.

That is all that I needed to hear. Three simple letters. F-A-B. Short for Fabulous? Not exactly. But the results gained from this simple formula for writing or presenting certainly do produce fabulous results. When I first heard the F-A-B formula, I was immediately hypnotized by the potential of following a simple formula for sales and writing success. And after nearly eleven years, I am still happy hypnotized!

So what does F-A-B stand for and how does it work?

Simple. Yet wonderfully powerful.

Feature-Advantage-Benefit.

Let me explain in under 900 words.

Whatever you sell or are selling now, your product or service solves a problem. Whether the problem is known and obvious or takes some digging to uncover, your product’s intention is to solve something. The problem can be as simple as preventing pimples or as complex as the problems faced by a failing company whose key indicators all point towards bankruptcy. No matter the problem, your product or service was created to solve it.

So, let’s assume that you have identified the problem and your prospect is aware of the problem and accepts it as a problem. No what? How can you position your product/service in a way that the prospect sees your product as the solution? Simple, actually. Follow the formula of F-A-B.

Here’s how.

Your product/service has to have at least one FEATURE. Most likely, it has numerous features, but you need only discuss the features that address the customer’s unique position. Their unique problem. If, for example, the customer’s problem (hereafter referred to as a “challenge,”) is poor results from their advertising campaign, your product/service’s feature better be something that directly addresses their challenge. Think long and hard about the customer’s challenge before mentioning anything your product/service features. If you start rambling on about all the features of your product/service, the customer will tune out long before you have a chance to mention the feature he/she is dying for.

If your product/service does not have a feature the customer needs, then you won’t make a sale. Move on to either another prospect or another product/service. I can’t stress this point enough, and certainly not in the space of only 1,000 words. The best sales professionals in the world are the ones who can best match their products directly to the prospects challenge. This skill can take years to acquire, or it can only take a moment of enlightenment. Whichever the case, without the right product/service that solves a customer’s recognized problem, there will be no sales!

The next step in the formula is the ADVANTAGE the customer will gain by using your product/service. Whether the advantage will be an advantage over their competition or an advantage over their current way of doing business, you need to detail the direct advantage gained from partnering with you.

But this point is not where sales are made or lost. Most sales professionals are good at matching their product’s features to a customer and are strong at showing the benefits, but then stop and leave the most important step up to the creative mind of their prospect. Don’t stop here! There is only one more step.

Assuming that you have the right product/service for a recognized challenge, and that they understand the advantages that your product/service affords them, the next key to the formula is the BENEFIT. Precisely, how will your prospect benefit from your product/service. The key here is to tie your benefits directly to the customer’s challenge. Don’t assume that the customer will make the connection by themselves. Draw it out, verbally or visually, until you are certain the customer understands the direct benefit of using your product/service. If they understand their challenge, and that you have a solution to their problem, but don’t see the benefit from using your product/service, you will not make a sale.

Here is an example.

A customer has a challenge of weak profits on her sales of widgets. You show them how your advertising service has a feature that directly addresses building greater profit in the sales that result from effective advertising. (You, again, need to be certain that your product/service’s feature(s) directly addresses their recognized challenge.) You then show them how effective advertising with your services can increase their public awareness, eradicate any uncertainty about what their widgets do, as well as any other advantages that are associated with your service. And finally, and most importantly, you show her all the benefits associated with using your service. Increased profits from each sale; increased revenue from increased sales; strength of position over her competitors; the security that comes with a healthy bottom line; greater ability to diversify their product line; potential of selling her company to a larger company; etc, etc….

There is a point when you are going over board with benefits but that point is often much further than most sales professional go to. Get creative with your benefits. (Making sure that they are all based on reality.) Remembering always that customers buy off emotion, then justify with logic. Get them emotionally involved with your service by showing them all the benefits they can enjoy by using your product/service.

F-A-B. A simple to remember formula to drastically increase your sales and revenues. Though it is easy to remember and to use, it takes a lot of practice to truly master. My suggestion is that after you designed your letter, proposal, or presentation, you go through and identify the Features, advantages, and benefits while making sure that each part directly addresses your customer’s challenge.

Well, the word counter indicates that I am close to 900 words, so I will end with this final statement: Without features, you have no product/service to sell. Without advantages, there are no reasons why the customer should choose you over anything or anyone else in your market space. And without benefits, there is no emotional leverage. And without emotional leverage, your chances for success are greatly diminished.

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Ideal Christmas Presents For Friends and Family

Sometimes when it comes to Christmas presents it is hard to choose. One does not know everyone on the party and may be afraid of give something that the person will not like. Of course, the ideal present will depend on whether you are giving it to a kid or an adult and how much money you are willing to spend. Nevertheless, following is a list of possible gift that you can surprise your loved ones with and that will surely be a success.

Classic Movies

There are several classic Christmas movies that can be an excellent present for almost anyone and there are various to chose from so regardless the age of the gift addressees there is surely one for them. Various titles that can be offered as presents during Christmas are: White Christmas, It is a wonderful life, It happened one night, Miracle on 34th Street, Jungle book from Disney for kids, An affair to remember and many, many more titles you can easily find by doing a quick search on the net.

Chocolate

Everyone loves chocolate and it comes in so many shapes these days that you surely can find a presentation that suits each gift addressee. You can get those cute packages with chocolate filled with liquor for the old ones and various different animal shaped chocolates with milk for the younger ones. Also, a big chocolate bar is an excellent addition to attach to a small present when your funds are running low (everybody knows that chocolates are cheap).

Wines, Champagne, Liquors

For the old ones, if you do not know them enough, very classy and flexible presents are beverages like a good bottle of wine (they come of all prices and shapes, some are local and cheap, others are imported and expensive). A good alternative to wine if you are not very familiar with it is to purchase a bottle of champagne. There is also a wide range of types and prices so you will not have a problem to adjust this option to your budget. Finally, exotic liquors are always a success, they can even be opened during the occasion and you can also have the chance to have a taste of your present.

Jewelry and Ornaments

This of course is an option that you may think requires a lot of money. But truth is that jewelry and ornaments are not necessarily expensive. There are rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces of all kinds and prices ranging from ten dollars to several thousands. Therefore, with just a couple of hundreds you could purchase presents for up to four female members of the family or even more and we all know that women love jewelry.

If You Need Financing

If you do not have the money for purchasing all the present you would want to purchase, you do not have to worry because the financial industry is also offering special products for the holiday. Christmas loans are easy to get and very affordable in terms of interests and amount of payments. These loans feature interest rates significantly lower than the rates charged for regular personal loans and credit verification is often not necessary so even if your credit is bad, you can still get approved.

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Presenting – The Beaches Lions Club – Celebrating with the Community and Making a Difference

For many decades now the Beaches Lions Club has been an integral part of the Beach Community and the driving force behind one of the flagship events: The famous Beach Easter Parade is an important fixture of the Beach community calendar every year, an event that draws tens of thousands of people and provides fun for the whole family. Together with Centre 55 and the Beach Metro Community News, the Lions Club also recognizes outstanding community service and awards the Beach Citizen of the Year Award. This was definitely an organization that I wanted to find out more about.

Talking to the real community experts, I asked Sheila Blinoff and Carol Stimmell from the Beach Metro Community News who I should to talk to and they suggested Joe Bordieri, a long-term Beach resident who has been involved with the Beaches Lions for many years. On a Tuesday night for which a Director’s Meeting was scheduled I headed down to the Beaches Lions Club building, located right next to Ashbridges Bay, just a few meters southwest of the intersection of Coxwell and Lakeshore Boulevard.

As people were arriving for the meeting, Joe and I went upstairs into the club’s meeting room and we sat down so Joe would be able to give me an overview of the oldest service club in the Beach. The Beaches Lions was founded in 1935 and Joe explained that in the “good old days” the club’s main role was to entertain children, seniors and help anybody in need. Membership was closed to 80 members from the business community, and between the 1930s and the 1950s there could only be one member from each trade or profession.

Internationally the Lions Club also has a proud, long-standing history. Founded in 1917 by a Chicago business man named Melvin Jones, the club today has more than 1.3 million members in over 200 countries across the world. Its founder believed that local business people should broaden their horizons and participate and contribute to improving their communities and the world in general. Three years after the club was founded in Chicago, it went international with the first Lions Club being established in Canada in 1920. From there the Lions Club expanded internationally throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. A particularly active time for international expansion were the 1950s and 1960s.

In the early years, one of the mottos of the club was that “no club shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as its object”. Unselfish service has remained one of the key objectives of the Lions Club.

A key point in the Lions Club’s history was a speech made by Helen Keller in 1925 where she challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Ever since then Lions clubs have actively dedicated themselves to serve the blind and visually impaired. Lions Club members are working hard to end preventable blindness, but they also participate in a wide variety of community activities.

As part of its dedication to working with the visually impaired, the Beaches Lions Club sponsors blind people to work with seeing-eye dogs. It costs about $8000 to train a seeing-eye dog, and there are two institutions providing that training: an organization in Oakville, just an hour outside Toronto, and another one in Oakbrook, Illinois.

Lions clubs have long held an esteemed and highly respected role in communities across the world. Joe Bordieri, who came to Canada from Italy more than five decades ago, explained that “in the old country only the rich and famous” would join the Lions Club. When he first joined in 1977 he was very enthusiastic. For many years he worked hard to become the President of the local club since he always had an interest in the local community.

Creative fundraising ideas were employed over the years. In the mid-1980s the club would hold fundraisers called “Giant Bingo” with a $5000 jackpot and more than $20,000 in prizes. Bingo would be held at the Greenwood Race Track (formerly the Woodbine Racetrack) for six to eight years. Throughout the 1960s the Lions Clubs would donate wheelchairs and telephone devices for the deaf. Oil tanks were being donated to needy families in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1967, the Beaches Lions Club built a Centenary Lions Home for Seniors at 55 Norway Avenue. The Lions Club managed it for one year and then donated it to the City of Toronto for one dollar. Over the years, the Beaches Lions also sponsored a wading pool in Kew Gardens. This pool is still fully operational today, a fixture since the 1950s.

Another big fundraising event for the Beaches Lions Club is the Easter Parade, a hugely popular annual event in the Beach that also features several bands at the Alex Christie Bandshell at Kew Gardens. Through Loonies for the Lions the public has the opportunity to contribute to the important causes that the club supports. During the Canada Day Festival several ten thousand people attend. Several bands are playing, and the event features rides for children, and all around entertainment opportunities for the whole family.

Joe also mentioned that there used to be a Beachfest that the Lions Club would hold. The promoter of this event was a Lions Member by the name of Lido Chilelli who also founded the Beaches Jazz Festival. In addition the Lions Club used to hold a ceremony called “Citizenship Court” to welcome New Canadians during Canada Day festivities in the park.

Another big annual event organized by the Beaches Lions Club is “Christmas in the Park”, which is hosted by Beach celebrity Glenn Cochrane. This event also is the occasion of the Christmas Tree Lighting, the official kickoff of the holiday season. Christmas trees are for sale, run by a Lion member for the last 12 years.

Joe himself has long-standing connections to the Beach. He was born in Sicily and came to Canada in 1955. After getting married he bought Vienna Upholstery in 1964, and he and his wife had five children. He has been working in the Beach since 1955 and has been a resident since 1964. Over the years Joe has seen many changes in the Beach: he said “in the 1950s you could shoot a cannon across the street, and there would be nobody to react.”

At that time there were a lot of used furniture stores. Joe credits the revival of the Beach mainly to two people: Lido Chilelli, the founder of the Toronto International Beaches Jazz Festival, and Zoltzz (local merchant Harold Wiseman) who opened his popular fashion discount store “Ends”. Joe added that people from all over the world come here to enjoy the area, and from a point a view of living here he said it is the best place in the city.

I inquired about the procedure for joining the Beaches Lions Club and Joe said that it is necessary for an existing member to refer a new member to the club. Presently the Beaches Lions Club has 56 active members. Many of the members are retired professionals and business people, and the club is able to draw on their decades of experience. A number of younger members have also joined the club, and Joe said that the best age for someone to join is “when they have made it professionally and they have the time to contribute and give back”.

Joe adds that the members also have a lot of fun together. The Club has monthly dinner meetings where members get together, socialize, have fun and talk about club business. He explained that if a member starts to talk about their business, a so-called “tail-twister” will fine them. The fining of course is just for fun, but it illustrates that the dedicated purpose of the club is service, not self-promotion. Joe added that business relationships happen automatically as members get to know one another.

The Beaches Lions Club is a collection of individuals who come together to make a difference, and its special events are treasured fixtures in the community calendar. The Lions Club motto is “Many people can do what one person is unable to do alone”, and the Beaches Lions Club is a perfect example of this spirit.

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