Our story

The story of CBM The story of CBM The story of CBM
Every day, CBM International is working in 63 countries around the world to transform lives. In 2015, CBM Australia worked directly in 17 of the poorest countries. Together, CBM globally seeks to empower people living with disability in the world’s poorest countries, transforming their lives and breaking down the barriers in their homes and communities that stop them from reaching their full potential.

In low income countries, people living with disability are often unable to access basic rights and services such as education and healthcare, and are often excluded from employment, and social and community activities.

Without these opportunities, people with disability and their families often fall deeper into poverty and become more vulnerable to further disability. Globally, CBM works to break this persistent cycle. Disability and poverty go hand in hand, so we tackle them together.

We are also aware that in times of emergency, people with disability are some of the most vulnerable. We therefore work to ensure they can access mainstream relief such as food, clean water and shelter, while also working with local relief organisations to make sure people with disabilities are included in disaster response planning and future relief efforts.

Our Vision:
An inclusive world in which all people with disability enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

CBM is creating a lasting impact with the poorest men, women and children living with disability by encouraging self-reliance and participation. We always work in partnership with local organisations, and we work for and with people with disability to promote their rights to local and national governments and agencies. In Australia and overseas, we campaign to change attitudes towards disability.

We were formerly known as Christian Blind Mission – but now we do so much more! Over time, our work has widened from serving mainly people with vision impairment. CBM now works in poor communities with people with disability and those at risk, to access healthcare, rehabilitation, education, employment and social opportunities. CBM International is now the world’s largest non-government organisation (NGO) working with people with disability in the poorest places.

From our beginnings...

Pastor Ernst Christoffel In 1908, German pastor Ernst Christoffel founded CBM International in Turkey, opening a home for children who were blind and orphaned. Pastor Christoffel built CBM International on core values such as Christianity, internationalism, professionalism, stewardship, honest communication and inclusion – all values we’re committed to today.

For over 100 years, CBM has globally been making life-changing differences in the lives of the world’s poorest people. We’ve also come a long way - since we performed our first cataract operation in Afghanistan in 1966, our 10 millionth patient received sight-restoring surgery in 2010!

It was in the 1980s that CBM Australia (CBMA) came into its own. The 1990s brought steadily increasing advocacy on poverty, disability and development, alongside our full accreditation with the Australian Aid Program.

Since then, CBMA has grown our impact:

 • To over 20,000 people now praying with CBMA for our life-changing work
 • To over 300,000 supporters committed to ending the cycle of poverty and disability
 • From an annual CBMA income of $4M to $35M

CBMA has worked hard to contribute to changes in the wider international development community. The Australian Government's second Disability Strategy, released in May 2015, is a great example of the emphasis now being given to disability inclusion within the Australian Aid Program.

CBMA continues to be a global leader in disability inclusive development, addressing poverty alleviation through the inclusion of people with disability and working together with other NGOs, governments and international agencies towards greater disability inclusion.

The current CBMA Strategic Plan outlines our plan to grow this transformative impact.

Together we can do more!