Iceland’s Gudrun Yngvadottir, the second vice president, of the Lions Clubs International, visited the Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River earlier this week.
Ms Yngvadottir, along with her husband Dr Jon Bjarni Thorsteinsson, stopped off in Cape Town on a two-month tour of various Lion’s Club projects in 20 countries across the world.
Clive Fox, Merriman Lions Club, based in Goodwood, project co-ordinator, said they had been involved in two job-skills projects at the shelter – Greenleaves, a food-project, and Woodworxx, a carpentry project.
“The club has also been involved in supplying goods for the shelter’s thrift store for a number of years. Three years ago, we started the two projects in order to empower the street people living at the shelter,” he said.
Shelter manager Shafeek Ortell said there were 70 people staying there – 19 women and 51 men. Mr Ortell said people came to Elim either directly off the streets or through referral. They go through an assessment and rehabilitation process intended to reintegrate them into society.
Ms Yngvadottir, who is set to be the first female president of the organisation in two years’ time, became involved with Lions in her 40s.
“The pillars of the organisation are service, friendship, growth and leadership,” she said. “Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. Our level of education is very high; we have a good health system; no unemployment and our policemen don’t carry guns. We don’t have an army either. Everyone thinks Iceland is made of ice, but we are a country of fire and ice and 90 percent of our landscape comprises mountains. I like to refer to my country as ‘Niceland’,” she quipped.
She told the Northern News she was dedicated to spreading peace in the world and uplifting marginalised communities across the globe.
“It’s certainly a joy to be a Lion. I think joy is very important because it’s the keyring to the future.”
To get involved, call the shelter on 021 591 2824 or email Clive Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org