Over £1.8m has been raised towards helping recover the sight of people living in impoverished communities around the world who are unnecessarily living with blindness.
The huge sum was raised by the See the Way campaign run by the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), with donations made to the charity between February and May this year being matched by the UK Government and receiving an additional boost thanks to Gift Aid.
The money will go towards the charity’s work in helping people with sight problems who could not otherwise afford sight-saving surgery or even a pair of glasses.
The support makes all the difference for blind people living in poor communities, who are often left unable to go to school, live independently or work.
Many of those affected by sight problems in such communities are blind because of conditions that could be easily treated, such as cataracts.
According to CBM, the problem is widespread, with three out of every four people in the world who are blind living needlessly without their sight.
Funds that were donor matched by the Government will go towards delivering eye health services in rural Rwanda.
International Development Minister Andrew Murrison said: “Improving access to eye health services for people living with cataracts and other sight problems in rural Rwanda not only reduces blindness and visual impairment, it helps people with sight problems to earn a living which boosts economic productivity.
“I am delighted the UK government has matched £844,684.85 to CBM’s See the Way appeal, helping to raise a total of £1,847,343.92. CBM’s work is making a significant and lasting difference.”
The Government-sponsored project will get underway in October this year and seek to improve access to eye health services for over 385,000 people living across four rural districts in Rwanda.
The new centres will save people in these communities from having to make the long journey across the country to see an eye specialist.
The funds will be used to train and equip eye health workers at district hospitals. Four district hospitals will receive specialist equipment to help them diagnose and treat conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.
CBM partner hospital Kabgayi Eye Unit will be supported in sending out eye specialists to rural communities four times a year where they will be able to deliver services, including surgery, for people who are unable to make the journey to an eye hospital.
Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive for CBM UK, said: “We’re so incredibly grateful to all the wonderful people around the country who have helped make this appeal such a success – through your fundraising activities, your prayers
and your generous gifts.
“Just a few months ago, I met people in Rwanda who were facing a future of needless blindness because the nearest eye hospital was just too far away. But thanks to you, we’ll be able to deliver sight-saving treatment to tens of thousands of people like those I met in rural areas, helping to ensure that nobody loses their sight simply
because they live in poverty.”
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