The primary raison d’être of our international chivalric organization is the pursuit of active and hands-on Hospitaller work across the globe. Our organization is not interested in promoting itself in the newspapers with knights and dames wearing mantles and showing off huge cheque blow-ups of donations so as to satisfy a possible narcissist trend within our members. We believe that Hospitaller and Charity work should be done without the fanfare of trumpets and in the most transparent of manners.
All the members of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem know exactly what they are joining into once they submit their application form; a 21st century voluntary and chivalric organization which is fully geared to emulate the Hospitaller work of the historic and medieval Lazarite Order in these pressing times. There is indeed no need for self-publicity. Respect is gained on an international level not on how many medals and insignia one wears, but on our collective effort to ease the sufferings of those in need around the globe. We humbly believe that we have done, and continue to do, our utmost in order for our main mission statement to be factual and concrete – that is in emulating the medieval Lazarite Order in its Hospitaller work.
Naturally, times have changed. The Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus in the 21st Century does not solely specialize in treating lepers as did the Order of old. There are certainly more demanding and pressing Hospitaller work around the globe. Experience has also shown us that even the various jurisdictions wherein our Order operates identify differing Hospitaller needs which are somewhat different from one region to another.
In this Hospitaller initiative report, we would like to show you where the Order channels its funds, which are mainly generated by means of membership fees, the selling of publications and gifts, fund raising initiatives and personal donations. A quick look at the statistics below will give an immediate grasp of the numbers we are talking about:
One of the most frequently asked questions which is asked to our members world-wide is the following:
‘How will I know where the money is going to?’
It is indeed a very essential question and our chivalric organization is proud to have set up statutory decrees which enshrine the need for every one of our Lazarite jurisdiction to project as transparent an operation as possible. News of various financial malpractices ingrained in other so-called chivalric organizations unfortunately and periodically hit the headlines in various countries. Some of these so-called chivalric organizations are also taken to court because of such alleged fraudulent operations. The history of the Order of Saint Lazarus, especially in the modern period of revival is also littered with such factual circumstances where officers of supposed Orders of Saint Lazarus were taken to court and jailed in various countries due to their financial abuse and other related crimes.
The United Grand Priories of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was founded in 1995 specifically because other Lazarite institutions were not as transparent when it came to Hospitaller initiatives world-wide. Throughout these years, the Supreme Grand Priory of the United Grand Priories has implemented draconian statutory measures so as to ensure that our organization does not fall into the trap of other so-called chivalric organizations. Thankfully, throughout all these years of international operations, our chivalric organization has never found itself embroiled in any situation wherein a lack of transparency of funds created uncalled for problems, be they legal or internal.
How did we achieve this? Firstly, one has to pinpoint the fact that the Supreme Grand Priory is very careful in selecting and electing its officers and representatives worldwide. Due diligence is indeed essential in securing upright and diligent officers who will be themselves responsible for the admittance of postulants in their own respective Grand Priories, Commanderies, Grand Commanderies and Delegations.
Secondly, the constitution of the Supreme Grand Priory of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus, together with a number of decrees on this particular issue, ascertains that each jurisdiction needs to create and establish, as per the respective laws of the land in question, a registered non-governmental organization which normally is created in the form of a Foundation, bearing the words Saint Lazarus Foundation, or similar wordings as per the rules of the land. Automatically, then, these NGOs are themselves subject to the rigorous scrutiny of the particular rules of the land in question and thus are annually answerable to the authorities in question and produce audited accounts as per legislation.
Thirdly, the Supreme Grand Priory requires that all its Grand Priories forward to the former annual financial reports with the signatures of the officers in question. These reports are internally scrutinized in order to ensure transparency in each jurisdiction’s operations. Additionally, the Supreme Grand Priory itself, on an annual basis, submits to the Council of Knights its own financial report in order to ensure that all Grand Officers and officers representing the Grand Priories are fully aware of the state of finances and its Hospitaller work worldwide.
‘Where does the money go?’
The Order’s various Hospitaller initiatives and the shape and format chosen for such initiatives depend on which jurisdictions one is analyzing. The Grand Priory of Austria, for example, has an annual, hands-on exercise wherein its officers and members, assist – financially and personally – in the running of a homeless centre in Vienna, the capital. Our members there offer a service, for a nominal fee of 1 Euro, of giving a hot meal, shelter for the night and breakfast in the morning to an unfortunately increasing number of homeless in the capital of Austria. Our members help in taking care of the food, including dessert, the cleaning and washing up and the administrative chores of such an institution which is wholly privately operated – it is not a social project of the government. Additionally, annual events are organized in Austria in aid of the handicapped, with the highly popular ‘Mission to the Sky’ being indeed the flagship of such Hospitaller events in Austria.
Above photos from recent "Mission to the Sky"
The Grand Priory of South Africa, for example, is specifically geared to ensure that hands-on Hospitaller work is given to the needy in Johannesburg and other areas in South Africa. The Grand Prior oversees the distribution and execution of free inoculation for a number of diseases which are still rampant in the region. The distribution of medicine and the proceeds from the sales of used stamps are also highly utilized in a number of social and voluntary institutions in the area.
Large sums of monies are also donated to a number of international Foundations and organizations which support the restoration and upgrading of Christian monuments and churches. The Grand Priory of Russia, Ukraine, Sicily, Malta and Gozo have all donated thousands of Euros to cathedrals, basilicas and other churches and religious institutions of various Christian denominations in order to ensure that sacred art and the buildings themselves are kept conserved and not endangered with the passage of time.
Various jurisdictions have their own fleet of first aid vehicles and apparatus which are used in unfortunate national disasters. The delegation of Slovakia, for example, led by Confrere Jan Culka OMLJ, who is also the President of Comlex Central Rescue Service, has been in the forefront of disaster response and has been given due and just accolade not only by the President of Slovakia but also by a number of international institutions and personalities. After 10 years of activity they have managed to build one of the most powerful, largest and best coordinated rescue services in Central Europe in the field of disaster response. In addition to a permanent support for exceptional humanitarian situations in Slovakia, they participated in 13 international missions from Haiti, through Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hungary, Czech Republic to Romania. 5 of these missions were intercontinental, which imposes a heavy burden on the logistics and overall co-ordination of teams. To be leaders in this field inevitably means investing heavily in state of the art equipment which come in handy when assisting those in need. Abroad, namely in Pakistan, they have successfully trained a rescue team for natural disasters and catastrophes.
Above photos from recent Slovak Training Mission
And this is not the sole situation with our Slovak brethren. Our Austrian members also have their own national disaster equipment and are fully registered to operate as such by the laws of the land. In Malta, especially by means of the alliance signed this year between the Grand Priory of Malta and the Saint Lazarus Special Rescue Group, such first aid services are also on the increase.
National disasters and fund raising initiatives in order to assist the needy is also a very important chore of the Grand Priory of Brazil. Apart from the various outreach programmes which the Grand Priory of Brazil operates in order to assist the illiterate, the homeless and the sick, these last months saw the Grand Priory of Brazil doing its level best in order to alleviate the sufferings of those compatriots which were left homeless due to national disasters which engulfed the region.
The Grand Priory of Argentina is also active in assisting a shelter from discrimination: Run by a Lutheran pastor, the Solidarity Hostel in the city neighbourhood of Constitución in Argentina houses men regardless of age, sexual orientation or religious faith. It is assisted by our Argentinian Lazarites.
The Grand Priory of Hungary has found a different niche in its quest for Hospitaller work worldwide. Led by the dynamic Grand Prior, Chevalier Bela Danielisz KLJ CMLJ, this Grand Priory believes that its mission is to create the necessary international tools in order to assist in the eradication of illiteracy and also to create better opportunities for people around the world who do not have the financial means to study and specialise in their chosen fields and artisanship. To this effect, the Grand Priory of Hungary established, late last year, the Saint Lazarus Centre for Knowledge, based in Budapest, with these specific Hospitaller goals in mind.
Various Grand Priories also donate vehicles and other needed products to other worthy organisations world wide. This year, for example, saw the Grand Priory of Malta donating a motor vehicle to the Malta Memorial District Nurses Association so as to assist them in their daily work of inoculating social cases in their own residences. Another motor vehicle was also donated this year to the Tiny Infants Parents Support Group, which deals specifically with cases of premature births and stillborn babies and the ensuing parental trauma. And there is no country or continental barrier for such donations: This year also saw the active members of the Grand Priory of the United States, even before the latter was duly consecrated, donating a moto-med machine to a paralysed young Russian girl who was, by means of a terrible accident, left paralysed in her teens. Such a machine would have cost Vladi around Euros 9,000 if bought brand new. And this apart from her very expensive regular treatment in a specialised Moscow hospital. In came the Americans who literally bought, crated and freighted the whole moto-med machine to a bewildered Vladi!
MMDNA receiving vehicle donation
Tiny Infants Parents Support Group receiving vehicle donation
The year 2011 is also very exciting for the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem due to the fact that later this year, there will be consecrated the new Grand Priory of Congo. This Grand Priory will be formed by the leaders and team which are presently running a dedicated orphanage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which cares for 164 orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.
It will be the duty of our established Grand Priories worldwide to aid and assist in the running of such an orphanage. With their support, the Grand Priory of Congo will help provide: Construction repairs on three buildings deeded by the Congolese Government, medical care and medicine for children orphaned by AIDS, food, clothing, shoes, beds, educational supplies, computers, and Christian supplies. Additionally, by means of the constant synergy created between the Grand Priory of Hungary and the Grand Officers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, a staggering Euros 400,000 plus worth of medicinal supplies are being made available to the Grand Priory of Congo in order to alleviate its Hospitaller needs.
Orphanage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Enough said for now! Hospitaller work in the 21st Century is still needed and is still executed with care and affection by the modern day Lazarite members of the United Grand Priories worldwide. This is the main reason of this organization’s existence. There would have been no need for the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus to be founded in 1995 without such a constant and needed Hospitaller output.
On behalf of the Supreme Grand Priory, let us also take this opportunity to thank all the thousands of Confreres and Consoeurs worldwide who form part of our dynamic organization. Without their aid and assistance, such Hospitaller work would not be possible. We have managed, to date, to keep to our promise of not having any single member of our Order on a payroll. Thus, all our collective work is voluntary and not self-rewarding. Let us keep it that way.