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Light up Lives appeal raises £2.3 million to prevent blindness in world’s poorest places

Posted on: Monday, September 20th, 2021

We are delighted to announce that, thanks to your generosity and match funding from the UK government, our Light up Lives appeal earlier this year raised an incredible £2.3 million to prevent blindness and restore sight in the world’s poorest places.

As part of the UK Aid Match scheme, the UK government committed to match every pound given by the public to the Light up Lives appeal between 18 February and 20 May 2021. This resulted in £1,058,862 of UK government match funding, which will be used to launch a new 3-year programme to improve access to vital eye health services in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world. A desperate shortage of trained eye health workers, ill-equipped hospitals and an economic crisis have all been worsened by the Coronavirus pandemic – which is why our new project in Zimbabwe will be so vital to scale up access to sight-restoring cataract surgery and other treatments. We hope to enable more than 44,000 women, men and children with eye health problems to access good quality treatment and support.

Kirsty Smith, Chief Executive of CBM UK, says: 

“This is an amazing result that will make such a difference to people living with sight problems in the world’s poorest communities – thank you so much to all the wonderful individuals and organisations who supported the Light up Lives appeal.  Despite the ongoing pressures of the Coronavirus pandemic, our supporters have responded with huge generosity; it’s been an inspiration to see so many people raising awareness and funds. Worldwide, a shocking 3 out of 4 people who are blind don’t need to be – and we know that the situation with Coronavirus is making it even harder for people with sight problems to access treatment and support, especially in countries where the health system is weak like Zimbabwe. But thanks to your incredible generosity and match funding from the UK government, we will be able to train local health workers, equip hospitals and strengthen eye health systems for the future, helping build communities where nobody is needlessly blind.”

Did you follow our live week from our partner eye hospital in Zimbabwe? Witness the incredible impact of sight-restoring treatment for people like Paul (pictured above)  and their families in this video (open link in new tab).

Thank you to our fantastic communications partners across the UK who supported our Light up Lives appeal and helped to raise awareness:

Premier Christian Media, Cambridge Independent, Business Weekly, Cambridge 105 Radio, Cathedral Eye Clinic, Club 4 U, One Leisure St Ives, St James’ Church, Great St Mary’s Church, Diocese of Peterborough and Michaelhouse Café

The impact of your life-changing support: See the Way update

Light up Lives was our third appeal where your donations were matched by the UK government through its UK Aid Match scheme. Thanks to your generosity and UK government match funding in response to our See the Way appeal in 2019, we launched a 3-year project to improve access to sight-saving treatment in rural Rwanda, where many people live far from the nearest eye hospital and become needlessly blind due to conditions that could be treated. The project is already making a big impact.  Since January 2021:

  • 6,828 people have been treated for sight-related conditions
  • 244 people have received sight-restoring cataract surgery
  • 79 eye health workers in 4 rural districts have received training and mentoring.
  • Training for hospital staff in inclusion, sign language and safeguarding is making hospital facilities more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.

Mihigo, 77, is one of the 244 people who have received cataract surgery through the See the Way project. He was overjoyed to be able to see again:

“After two years I got totally blind and this totally affected me and my entire family as I can’t continueDr Theophile Tuyisabe. examining a patient with cataracts my work….but after being treated by Kabgayi Eye Unit’s Doctors, I am well and can see everything in its colour. This will change my situation as I can see and do everything for myself”. 

Top image: Paul from Zimbabwe after cataract surgery that restored his sight and independence. Thanks to your generous response to our Light up Lives appeal, thousands more people like Paul will receive sight-saving treatments.