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12 days of Christmas 

It’s been an uncertain and challenging year, but there have also been some moments of great light and joy in 2020. They say that “every cloud has a silver lining” and one of the ways we’ve coped this year, here at CBM UK, is to take time to focus on things that have inspired us. So here are 12 of our “silver linings” from 2020, things that have inspired us, to mark the 12 days of Christmas. We hope that they will lift your spirits as they have ours.


Devotions Live

CBM staff and partners holding hands and praying together in Uganda

As we suddenly found ourselves in lockdown, many of us were unable to go to church and pray together in person. And with the CBM UK team working remotely, our regular staff “Devotions” had to move to being online, rather than in-person. But the “silver lining” of this change was that we could invite our wider CBM family to join. We’ve loved having CBM supporters and volunteers join us for these moments of reflection and prayer via Facebook live.

Click on the links below to watch some of our favourite Devotionals:

Kirsty Smith, CBM UK Chief Executive (open in new tab)

Bekah Greenback, CBM UK (open in new tab)

David Taylor, CBM UK (open in new tab)

James Raynor, CBM UK Trustee (open in new tab)

Kit Lawry, CBM UK Trustee (open in new tab)


Innovative ways to foster inclusion

Two women wearing inclusive face masks sewing in the Philippines

Despite the restrictions in place because of Covid-19, we’ve been able to adapt our programmes and find new ways to support people living with disabilities and their families – including supporting people to be financially independent in Rwanda and helping girls to access education in Zimbabwe.

Inclusive face masks pave way to a more inclusive world

When COVID-19 first reached the Philippines, widespread lockdowns and mandatory mask-wearing were introduced across the country to slow the spread of the virus. For deaf people, this meant that they were cut off from communicating via lip reading, as traditional masks hide people’s faces. 

Michi, from CBM’s Country Office in the Philippines, explains that “the situation for people with disabilities is difficult. That’s why we have joined forces with local partners and organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to ensure response efforts are inclusive and protect the safety of all people.”

One initiative that has come out of the collaboration is an inclusive mask. The team designed a mask featuring a clear plastic panel to allow for lip reading and it has since been manufactured by OPDs. The mask was successfully trialled in the community with many welcoming the initiative. The success of the masks has meant they are now being produced at scale and rolled out to even more communities.


Our amazing supporter family

Group of children smiling in Guatemala

We’ve had so many heart-warming conversations with our supporters over the past year. And we’re constantly overwhelmed by your passion to help those less fortunate, even during an incredibly difficult time.

CBM voltunteer, Jimmy Moore walking in UgandaWe’re also grateful for all of our incredible volunteers, like Jimmy, who give up their time to help people living with disabilities in the world’s poorest communities.

“I am a part of a small group of supporters based in Northern Ireland, who have been so impressed with the work of CBM. I volunteer to support CBM’s wonderful work through organising events and speaking engagements at churches and community groups, to help spread the word.” – Jimmy Moore, CBM volunteer.


#ReaLLifeHeroes – working on the frontline

CBM supported community health workers in Nepal, wearing face masks.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CBM supporters have enabled us to support the world’s most vulnerable people, including people with disabilities and their families. But none of this would have been possible without our hardworking and dedicated in-country teams and partners on the ground.

So many amazing frontline workers have been risking their own lives to protect those in desperate need – including health workers in hospitals and community outreach workers delivering food, medicines and hygiene items to people’s homes.

Meet some of the amazing community workers in Nepal, who have been delivering vital supplies to people with disabilities and their families (open in new tab).

Meet some of our #EyeHealthHeroes who are on the frontline of preventing avoidable blindness in Malawi (open in new tab).


Campaigning for #MentalHealthForAll

CBM  Time to Change Global partner gathering

As we all learn to live with a “new normal” during the Coronavirus pandemic, our mental wellbeing has never been more important. However, the truth remains that greater investment in mental health is needed to ensure greater access for people living with mental illness. Mental health conditions are the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting over 450 million people at any time. 80% of people with mental illness live in low or middle-income countries, where most have little or no access to treatment or support and many face extreme poverty, stigma, discrimination and abuse.

This year, CBM, Time to Change Global and our partners launched Conversations Change Lives (open in new tab). – a global anti-stigma toolkit – to support organisations in the Global South to combat stigma around mental health in their communities.

Over the past two and a half years, we’ve boosted the capacity of mental health organisations and advocates in the Global South, supporting 111 Champions in Ghana, India, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda to share their stories, run events and advocate for their rights. Find out more (open in new tab).

CBM also joined the Speak Your Mind virtual global march for mental health on 9th October, to highlight the urgent need for greater investment in mental health. Find out more (open in new tab).


Coronavirus: My Story

Screenshots from 8 video diaries from people with disabilities during COVID19

Did you see our Coronavirus: My Story campaign earlier this year? We shared 8 short video diaries from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Zimbabwe to give a snapshot into some of the challenges being faced by people with disabilities during the Coronavirus pandemic and also how they are playing a valuable role in responding to the crisis.

Watch the video diaries on YouTube (open in new tab):


Although we haven’t been able to travel due to restrictions during COVID-19, it was so important that, thanks to technology, people around the world could still record and share their stories.


World Sight Day quiz

Peter (50) is happy following cataract surgery at CBM-supported hospital in Tanzania.

On 8th October, we celebrated World Sight Day by running a fun quiz for supporters.

If you missed it, find out 4 things you might not know about blindness around the world (open in new tab).

World Sight Day is an important day to cast a spotlight on avoidable blindness and visual impairment and efforts to tackle it around the world. At CBM, we’re passionate about building a world where nobody is needlessly blind and everyone can fulfil their potential. Thanks to our supporters, who share this commitment, we’re working across the world’s poorest places to prevent avoidable blindness.

Last year, CBM and our partners:

  • Performed 589,063 sight-restoring cataract surgeries.
  • Treated over 29 million people for blinding diseases.
  • Distributed more than 500,000 glasses and low-vision devices.


An Evening with Diane Louise Jordan

Kirsty Smith and Diane Louise Jordan at virtual CBM event

On Friday 13th November 2020, we were joined by broadcaster Diane Louise Jordan, well-known for presenting iconic TV shows Songs of Praise and Blue Peter, for a special online event – to mark the re-launch of our See the Way appeal, which we’d had to pause in April to focus on Coronavirus response.

Watch the event on YouTube (open in new tab):


Diane spoke about the personal impact of vision problems on her family, her life-changing journey to see our sight-saving work in Rwanda and why she’s passionate about helping build a world where nobody is needlessly blind.

The event included a screening of “Etienne’s Miracle”, a heart-warming film about a 10 year-old boy who has sight-restoring surgery, made during Diane’s trip to Rwanda in February, just before lockdown. Diane was delighted to be able to share her experiences with CBM supporters, through this virtual event.


Disability organisations take the lead in responding to Coronavirus

Roman, 32, from Bangladesh sitting in a wheelchair spraying antibacterial gel on a recipient hands

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CBM has been working alongside Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met. We’ve been inspired by the passion and dedication of the individuals leading the way.

Roman is a member of a Disaster Management Committee trained by CBM partner Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) in Bangladesh. He now educates people in his community about Covid-19 prevention measures:

“I decided to join and started working with all, including persons with disabilities, in my community. I wanted to prove that if opportunities are available in the society then persons with disabilities can also contribute in the community effectively.


An incredible partnership with Seeing is Believing

Reena (11) holding a thank you sign and smiling after successful cataract surgery on her right eye, at CBM's partner hospital in Nepal.

For 14 years, CBM has been working with Seeing is Believing (SiB), a collaboration between Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, to treat avoidable blindness and visual impairment by improving access to affordable and quality eye care.

As SiB draws to a close this year, in October we celebrated this amazing partnership between SiB, CBM and our supporters and the incredible achievements we’ve made together:

⭐️ Funded 15 life-changing programmes in 20 countries.

⭐️ Carried out over 2.2 million sight-saving surgeries.

⭐️ Provided 66,830 pairs of glasses and low vision devices.

⭐️ Screened over 4 million people for eye conditions.

⭐️ Trained 31,233 health and community workers.

Together, we’ve made a lasting impact across the world.

Read this report to find out more about our SiB programmes and key lessons learned (open in new tab).


Celebrating International Day of People with Disabilities

Christine, Simon and Derrick participating in CBMs bridge training in Uganda

On 3rd December, we joined people around the world to mark International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD).

IDPD is an annual opportunity to celebrate the contributions people with disabilities make but also to highlight the barriers many people still face around the world. Listening and learning from the experiences of people with disabilities is crucial in order to achieve an inclusive, fairer world for everybody.

This IDPD, we were delighted to launch three new films showing how we work alongside Disability Organisations to support and equip people with disabilities to speak up and campaign for their rights.

Watch the films on YouTube (open in new tab):

Christine, Derrick and Simon took part in a CBM-supported Bridge CRPD-SDG training programme in Uganda, helping them campaign more effectively for inclusion – so future generations do not face the exclusion and barriers that they have overcome.


Helping people See the Way to a brighter future

L-R: Jabes' father holding a UK Aid Match logo sign, CBM staff member holding #SeeTheWay sign and Jabes holding a Thank You sign.

Our See the Way appeal ended on 17th December and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of CBM supporters. Their kind donations will help people with sight problems in the world’s poorest places to See the Way to a brighter future – helping people access sight-saving surgery, glasses and support so they can go to school, read and write, get around safely and support themselves and their families.

Some of the CBM team wanted to share their huge thanks to supporters:

“I’m constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of CBM supporters. Despite it being a difficult year for everyone, people still want to reach out and help those that are less fortunate than themselves. Thank you so much – every kind gift you give is transforming lives in the world’s poorest places.” Laura and 2-year-old Mabel.

Laura and Mabel holding a thank you poster

“Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters who are giving their time and generous donations to help people living with sight problems in the world’s poorest communities. It is such an incredible thing to restore someone’s sight… and we couldn’t do it without you!” Moin.

Moin smiling to camera

“Thank you for the enormous difference you are making! Your support is precious, and I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, care and dedication to prevent blindness and transform the lives of those who are most vulnerable! Giving the gift of sight has an incredible life-changing impact and I would love to express my heartfelt thanks for bringing the sparkle back to many lives!” Steph and her husband, Brock.

Steph and her husband Brock, in santa outfits and holding a Thank You sign

Thank you for journeying with us this year!  We hope that you have found many “silver linings” in your own life during 2020.

Images: Main – 10-year-old Ramadhani from Tanzania holding his thumbs up and smiling ©CBM/argum/Einberger. 2nd – CBM staff and partners holding hands and praying together in Uganda ©CBM/Trenchard. 3rd – A Deaf woman using an inclusive face mask in the Philippines ©CBM. 4th – Group of children smiling in Guatemala ©CBM/argum/Einberger. 5th – CBM UK volunteer, Jimmy Moore, in Zimbabwe ©CBM. 6th – Frontline workers from CBM’s partner NDWA in Nepal, wearing face masks as they deliver life-saving supplies ©CBM. 7th – CBM and Time to Change Global partner gathering ©TimeToChangeGlobal. 8th – Screenshots from 8 video diaries shared for Coronavirus:My Story campaign ©CBM. 9th – Peter from Tanzania, smiling and holding his thumb up after successful cataaract surgery at CBM’s partner hospital ©CBM/argum/Einberger. 10th – Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive CBM UK, and Diane Louise Jordan at CBM’s online event in November ©CBM. 11th – Roman, 32, from Bangladesh, giving hand sanitiser to a seller in his local market ©CBM. 12th – Reena (11) holding a thank you sign and smiling after successful cataract surgery on her right eye, at CBM’s partner hospital in Nepal ©CBM. 13th – Christine, Simon and Derrick participating in CBM’s bridge CRPD training in Uganda ©CBM. 14th – L-R: Jabes’ father holding a UK Aid Match logo sign, CBM staff member Jonny holding #SeeTheWay sign and Jabes holding a Thank You sign ©CBM/Hayduk. 15th – Laura, CBM UK, and 2-year-old Mabel ©CBM. 16th – Moin, CBM UK ©CBM. 17th – Steph, CBM UK, and her husband Brock ©CBM.