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Cambodian Lions Visit Counterparts In 95361
Information Exchange
lions pic
Oakdale Lion Richard Nimphius, center, with Cambodian visitors just prior to their departure after a one week stay in Oakdale. The group of five visited Oakdale to expand their knowledge on the Lions mission. Photographed with Nimphius are: Vong Thinonn, Tiv (Robert) Sothearith, Bophany Eap, Chhay (Lee) Hakly and Sidorn Ouk. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

The motto of Lions International is about as simple as it can come: “We Serve.” Their Mission Statement is a bit more in depth: “To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.”

It is a mission and motto which the Oakdale branch, goes above and beyond to uphold. Recently they extended their reach to help Cambodian Lions members do the same and continue the motto and mission overseas.

Earlier this month, five members representing two Cambodian Lions Clubs spent a week in Oakdale to learn more about the Lions Club in the United States.

Relatively new clubs (founded in 2012 and 2015), both are based in the province of Siem Reap City, Cambodia. The group also recently began a Leo Club for youth between the ages of 13 to 18.

“We reached out to Lions around the world to learn more about Lions Club,” Tiv (Robert) Sothearith, a pharmacist and club member said. “How to better organize the group to be able to explain to the team the vision and mission of the Lions.”

The United States was the last of their visits to varying countries to educate themselves on the Lions clubs. A total of 10 applied for visas to visit the U.S. and five were granted permission.

Sothearith shared that many become interested in being a Lion for the name/status, but don’t wish to serve. The Lion made it clear that is not the mission or intention of their young club; they plan to serve.

To support their commitment of service, Sothearith and the other four members shared to date they have done varying projects to help the community as well as the schools. Those projects include marking roads with lines, repairing the water system in a school and school bag donations totaling 1,500.

“We are a charity,” he said of their Lions chapter, “so we are spending time learning how to fundraise and how to serve the community.”

As for the things they needed to adjust to the most, they noted the temperature, time change and the traffic (the U.S. being more orderly).

The group spent a total of a week in Oakdale, traveling to various sites here and doing sightseeing outside the city, as well as staying with host families and learning more about the day-to-day American life.

“The people are really friendly and gave us a warm welcome,” Sothearith said.