Blind Mission casts a vision

To give sight to the blind

Vision 2020 is Christian Blind Mission International’s (CBMI) latest development.

The objective of “Vision 2020” is that no one should be needlessly blind any longer by the year 2020 and the project was officially launched in Geneva on 18 February 1999.

Infrastructures will be set up in individual countries to prevent and cure blindness. This means establishing a sufficient number of eye clinics and providing training of local specialists.

CBMI does not work with the blind in New Zealand and their statues are geared towards the “poorest of the poor” in the developing world. There is a branch office in Auckland.

There are 45 million blind people throughout the world, and 135 million with low vision. 90 percent of all blind people live in developing countries. Every year, at least seven million people go blind. 25 billion US dollars are spent annually by national economies because of blindness.

CBMI provides treatment and cures in countries where blindness proliferates and also works with children with physical disabilities. They support reducing third world debt and were signatories of the Jubilee 2000 documents that went to the New Zealand government through the Council for International Development.

Jubilee 2000 is a large and growing international campaign to achieve debt relief for developing countries. CBMI believe that debt leads to blindness and their aim is to draw attention between debt in developing countries and disability, including blindness.

Ian Dally, New Zealand National Director, says any money donated for eye projects in the end supports 2020 projects as the aim of Vision 2020 is to wipe out avoidable and curable blindness.

“That won’t mean there will be no more new cases of blindness by then, but it means we will by then, we hope, only be dealing with the incidence of blindness, such as new cases that present themselves every year.”

Mr Dally thinks Vision 2020 is potentially achievable.

He says: “We believe this is a challenge to rise to. We are not doing this on our own and that twenty-six organizations also think it is a worthy challenge.”

He notes that present statistics suggest it is reachable and that 80 percent of blindness is preventable.

However, he is aware that it could fail: “We have supported projects in parts of the world that failed to achieve their objectives. We have probably made some poor choices of projects to support at times.”

Mr Dally worked for CBMI in South America for twelve years, which was the result of helping to set up a school for deaf children in 1981. They received support from CBMI. CBMI then invited him to join the team from 1986. In 1998 he was asked to take over the running of the New Zealand office.

By Peter Veugelaers.

Published 2000, Challenge Weekly.

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