Transforming lives – the passion driving us and our work

Stories | August 13, 2019

CBM has a long and inspiring history of working to prevent blindness and support those with vision loss.

From humble beginnings when a German Pastor, Ernst Christoffel, was moved by extreme poverty to create a global force for change and reach people in need on four continents, CBM has helped to bring hope and end poverty for millions of people over the past 115 years. Each year here in Australia we work to transform the lives of more than five million people around the world.

Twenty years ago the international community came together as part of a mission to eliminate the main causes of all preventable and treatable blindness by the year 2020. As a leading international eye care agency, CBM joined this global initiative and the call of “The Right to Sight”.

Through CBM’s international work treating preventable blindness for children and adults, we realised that inclusion was key to achieving positive outcomes for people, their families and their communities.  So we developed and implemented our Inclusive Eye Health Initiative.

The initiative specifically addresses the goals set out in the Vision 2020 Global Declaration with a special focus on making eye health programs accessible and open to all members of the community, including people with a disability and those who are marginalised and socially excluded. CBM has been following Jesus’ example of inclusion, hope and justice in our work. Our Christian faith is founded in love and justice. That’s why each year we’re determined to touch the lives of more people; the hardest to reach, the invisible and the forgotten. As a Christian organisation, we believe we are all equal and we aim to ensure no one is left behind.

While our priority is to treat or prevent blindness, for some individuals this isn’t possible, and they face living with permanent vision impairment. It’s essential to the CBM Inclusive Eye Health Initiative that these people can access the same opportunities in health care, education and employment as everyone else, with the aim to create social inclusion and empowerment throughout their lives. This approach shows our commitment to ending avoidable blindness and our compassion in ensuring that those who are unable to receive treatment are also supported.

CBM’s Inclusive Eye Health Initiative prioritises three areas:  

  1. Strengthening national eye health systems
    We guide partners and help them implement inclusive and comprehensive eye health services that are integrated into national health systems, so the services are sustainable, fully locally owned, and delivered to quality standards.
  2. Improved access to inclusive, comprehensive eye care services
    This includes interventions to prevent and treat avoidable blindness, plus improve the quality of life for people with permanent visual impairment. We especially target people that are socially excluded and lack access to educational, economic and social opportunities. We work with partners who are fully committed to delivering inclusive and comprehensive services to communities most in need.
  3. Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
     We expand access to preventative and curative services to the poorest communities experiencing endemic diseases. This includes providing drugs to prevent and treat trachoma and river blindness (onchocerciasis).  For those with trachoma, we develop referral networks for rehabilitation, counselling, education and employment opportunities; ensuring our approach is inclusive for people with a disability. NTD programmes are so important in eliminating preventable blindness, that’s why we ensure our partners maintain activities even during times of instability or conflict.

Miracles happen through the Inclusive Eye Health Initiative

Nhung from Vietnam received the precious Miracle of cataract surgery to restore her sight last year. Her cataract was removed and Nhung was fitted with the right prescription glasses so she could see clearly. Today, Nhung has an even greater gift – to dream of a bright future for herself, her family and her community. 

This wonderful Miracle was made possible by the compassion of our supporters and their commitment to positively changing the lives of others. There are many stories of change, inclusion and hope that come from CBMs work in inclusive eye health. For over 30 years, CBM Australia has helped millions of people benefit from real, lasting change through proven community based programs. Acts of love from our supporters can and do change lives forever. Last year thousands of generous Aussies came together to give the gift of a sight-saving Miracle to 38,948 children and adults.

This year, with your help, we aim to reach a record-breaking 40,000 Miracles. Donate a Miracle today.

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