40 years of transforming lives in West Africa: CBM programme expert speaks to supporters in Northampton

Posted on: Friday, 20th April, 2018
Outreach volunteer, Theophile, has been trained by CBM to distribute trachoma medication to rural communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

CBM supporters and friends in Northampton enjoyed a rare opportunity to hear from CBM’s former Country Representative for Nigeria this week. Paul Caswell OBE shared stories of his four decades working for CBM in West Africa, tackling diseases like River Blindness and working to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

CBM supporters and friends in Northampton enjoyed a rare opportunity to hear from Paul Caswell OBE, CBM’s former Country Representative for Nigeria, at an event on 15th April. Paul shared stories of his four decades working for CBM in West Africa, working to improve the lives of people with disabilities and tackling diseases such as River Blindness. CBM’s Director of Inclusive Eye Health, Dr Babar Qureshi, also spoke at the event.

River blindness is the second leading infectious cause of preventable blindness. Paul witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of river blindness on rural communities in Africa. As he explained:

“Several years ago I went to Ghana, West Africa, and visited a village in the North West and was absolutely horrified by what I discovered. Every adult in the entire village was blind. I thought, how can this be? But this tragedy wasn’t limited to one village. As I’ve travelled around Africa, I’ve seen village after village devastated by river blindness.”

Paul highlighted that “this disease not only made people blind, but drove them away from fertile land in the river valleys to the more arid land away from the river” in an attempt to avoid the blackflies which spread river blindness.

Paul Caswell OBE, CBM’s former Country Representative for Nigeria.

Supporters also heard about the progress being made to prevent future generations from river blindness and to ensure people living with river blindness are able to contribute to society. Paul spoke about his passion for putting livelihood training and medical treatment at the heart of communities, so that people with river blindness could be integrated back into their communities.

Paul Caswell OBE spent 40 years working for CBM as Country Representative for Nigeria and Programme Expert in Neglected Tropical Diseases. In recognition of his long-standing contribution to services for persons with disabilities in West Africa, he received the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 2017, two of Paul’s sons, who spent much of their early life in West Africa and saw CBM’s life-changing work in action, cycled 100 miles to raise funds for CBM: https://www.cbmuk.org.uk/news/supporters-to-cycle-100-miles-to-help-the-worlds-poorest-people/

Images: Top - Outreach volunteer, Theophile, has been trained by CBM to distribute trachoma medication to rural communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bottom - Paul Caswell OBE, CBM’s former Country Representative for Nigeria.



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