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CBM (charity)

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CBM Christoffel-Blindenmission Christian Blind Mission
Established1908 (116 years ago)
Typescharitable corporation
Legal statusregistered association
AimImproving the quality of life of people with disabilities
Membership63 (2022)
Revenue403,536,489.7 Euro (2022)
Employees662 (2022)
Volunteers65 (2019)
AwardsDZI Seal-of-Approval

Christian Blind Mission (CBM) is an international Christian development organization, committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the poorest communities of the world.[1] It is considered one of the world's oldest and largest organizations working in this field.[citation needed]

CBM was founded in 1908 by the German pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel,[2][1] who built homes for blind children, orphans, physically disabled, and deaf persons in Turkey and Iran. Initially CBM's efforts were focused on preventing and curing blindness but now cover other causes of disability.

The global community has made significant strides in reducing poverty, but persons with disabilities continue to face disproportionate challenges. Approximately one in seven people worldwide live with a disability, which is more than one billion people.[3] Alarmingly, 80% of these people live in low- and middle-income countries.[4] Recognizing this inequality, CBM strives to address poverty, both as a cause and a consequence of disability, and to create a world where every person has equal opportunities and can live free from disease and poverty.

The organisation is building capacity in poor regions and improving service delivery in key areas such as health care, education, rehabilitation, livelihood development and organisational growth of partner organisations.

CBM’s areas of focus include:

CBM collaborates with local partners in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to fulfil its mission. They provide preventive, medical, rehabilitative, and educational services in 391 projects in 46 countries.[5]

  • Prevention and cure of blindness: CBM helps blind and visually impaired people and provides support for prevention and treatment.
  • Prevention of deafness and support for the hearing impaired: CBM works to prevent hearing loss and support people with hearing impairments.
  • Rehabilitation and provision of aids for physical disabilities: CBM focuses on the rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities and ensures access to necessary assistive devices.
  • Emergency relief and long-term reconstruction: CBM responds to disaster situations and pays special attention to the needs of persons with disabilities in emergency relief and long-term reconstruction efforts.
  • Advocacy work: CBM advocates for the concerns and rights of persons with disabilities to raise awareness among politicians and the general population.



CBM has a rich history spanning more than a century. Founded in 1908 by Pastor Ernst J. Christoffel, CBM is an international Christian development organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities in the world's poorest communities.

Ernst J. Christoffel embarked on a journey to Turkey in 1908 and established a home for blind, disabled and orphaned children in Malatia. Despite facing limited support, Christoffel's mission focused on caring for and supporting those in need.[6]

The organisation's original name was "Christian Mission for the Blind in the Orient".

During World War 1, Christoffel's work came to a halt and he was expelled from Turkey. As soon as the ban was lifted, he returned to Turkey only to find that the house in Malatia had been lost. Undeterred, Christoffel redirected his efforts to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) but was again banned. He then turned to Iran, where he founded homes for blind or otherwise disabled young people in Tabriz and Isfahan.[7]

The Second World War brought great challenges, as CBM's work was destroyed, and deportation was imminent. Christoffel, determined to remain with those he had worked for, was arrested in 1943 and spent three years in internment. Despite the hardships, his determination remained unbroken.

After his release, Christoffel returned to Iran in 1951 to continue his work in Isfahan, although his health was failing. He continued to minister to the disabled, the impoverished and the abandoned, earning him the title "Father of the Blind, the Deaf and Dumb, the Physically Handicapped and the Orphans".[8] Pastor Ernst J. Christoffel passed away on 23 April 1955, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and dedication.[9]

The period following Christoffel's death marked a significant transition for CBM. The organisation faced a difficult time as there was no clear succession plan. But in 1961, Siegfried Wiesinger and his wife Magdalena took over the management of CBM. They played a crucial role in expanding CBM's global reach and transforming the organisation into a professional one.

Under Siegfried and Magdalena Wiesinger's leadership, CBM experienced remarkable growth and diversification. The number of donors increased significantly and enabled CBM to expand its services to many developing countries. In addition to supporting blind people, CBM expanded its programmes to include the rehabilitation of the deaf and persons with physical disabilities.[10]

During this time, CBM gained international recognition and established CBM associations in various countries, including the USA, Canada, and Australia. The organisation also ventured into new areas of work, focusing on eye care work and holistic support for persons with disabilities.

CBM's collaboration with the World Health Organisation officially began in 1989, further strengthening its influence in the field of disability and development. in 1998, CBM began to work on poverty, disability, and development, recognising that these issues are interlinked.

In 2002, CBM was granted consultative status at the United Nations, which enabled it to actively contribute to global policy discussions and initiatives. The organisation has continued to expand its reach, celebrating its 15 millionth cataract operation in 2020[11] and working with drug manufacturer The Mectizan Donation Program to fight river blindness.[12]

CBM's commitment to the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities is increasingly recognised on the international stage. The first World Disability Report, published in 2011, highlighted that one billion people worldwide live with a disability.[13]

CBM's efforts to promote inclusion and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities led to their inclusion in eight of the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[14] The organisation has launched the CBM Foundation, which provides supporters with additional opportunities to sustainably improve the lives of persons with disabilities in poor countries.

In response to the pandemic COVID -19, CBM established a special relief fund in 2020 to help communities affected by the crisis.[15] CBM also celebrated the 15 millionth cataract operation performed by a partner in Uganda, highlighting the organisation's ongoing commitment to restoring sight. In the same year, CBM's German affiliate merged with CBM-International, strengthening the organisation's global programmatic work and increasing its effectiveness and efficiency.

CBM Today


CBM has offices in 24 countries worldwide. The head office is in Bensheim, Germany and is one of the 20 largest aid organizations in Germany.

CBM targets the people affected by disability by supporting local partner organizations to run programs in the fields of healthcare, rehabilitation (community-based rehabilitation – CBR), education and livelihood opportunities.[16] In 2017 the international mental health charity BasicNeeds merged into the Christian disability charity.[17]

CBM also advocates for disability inclusion following UN guidelines in international policy-making bodies, and campaigns and raises funds through its member associations. CBM has an emergency response team to respond to conflicts and natural disasters.[18]

CBM reached a total of 5.5 million people in 2021.[19] It was active in 46 countries, supported 492 projects and worked with 352 partner organizations, including disabled people's organizations, mission agencies, local churches, self-help groups and relief agencies.

Organizational Structure


Until the end of 2019, CBM operated as a federation with 11 member associations worldwide and its own program-implementing umbrella organisation (CBM International). In 2020, CBM International was united with the German member association to form the CBM Christoffel-Blindenmission Christian Blind Mission e. V. (CBM) to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the worldwide program work. Member associations from the United States[20] and Canada are part of CBM. They have had support of the Canadian government.[21] They have been given a four-out-of-four star rating by Charity Navigator.[22]

The other former member associations of CBM International from Italy, Australia,[23] New Zealand, the United Kingdom,[24] Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, Austria and Switzerland continue their work independently of the organization that emerged from CBM International and CBM Germany.

Recognition and awards


In 2017 CBM was the joint winner (along with Sightsavers) of the 2017 António Champalimaud Vision Award (the world's largest scientific prize in the field of vision) recognizing its work in supporting blindness prevention, alleviation and rehabilitation programs in developing countries.[25][26]


  1. ^ a b Taylor, Ina (2005). Religion and Life with Christianity. Heinemann. ISBN 9780435302283.
  2. ^ "Christian Blind Mission". UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  3. ^ World Health Organization. (n.d.). Disability and health. WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health
  4. ^ Alarmingly, 80% of these people live in low- and middle-income countries.
  5. ^ CBM, Christian Blind Mission. "Our work in 2022 report". CBM. CBM Christoffel-Blindenmission Christian Blind Mission. PDF Page 8. Retrieved 2023-08-18
  6. ^ CBM Christian Blind Mission. Timeline of CBM's history. CBM https://www.cbm.org/about-cbm/our-story Retrieved 2024-02-07
  7. ^ Sabine Thüne: Ernst Jakob Christoffel. Ein Leben im Dienst Jesu. VTR, Nürnberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-937965-39-0
  8. ^ CBM Christian Blind Mission. Timeline of CBM's history. CBM https://www.cbm.org/about-cbm/our-story Retrieved 2024-02-07
  9. ^ CBM Australia. Our History. CBM. https://www.cbm.org.au/our-history Retrieved 2024-02-07
  10. ^ Christoffel-Blindenmission. Ernst Jakob Christoffel – Gründer der Christoffel-Blindenmission (Ernst Jakob Christoffel – Founder of the Christoffel Mission for the Blind. CBM). German Website. https://www.cbm.de/ueber-die-cbm/die-cbm/geschichte.html. Retrieved 2024-02-07
  11. ^ CBM Christian Blind Mission. Celebrating 15 million Cataract Operations - Nakisinde's Story. CBM. https://www.cbm.org/news/news/news-2020/celebrating-15-million-cataract-operations-nakisindes-story/ 2020-09-23
  12. ^ The Mectizan Donation Program. Our Partner CBM. https://mectizan.org/partners/christoffel-blindenmission/ Retrieved 2024-02-07
  13. ^ UN World Health Organization (WHO), World Report on Disability : Summary, 2011, WHO/NMH/VIP/11.01, available at: https://www.who.int/teams/noncommunicable-diseases/sensory-functions-disability-and-rehabilitation/world-report-on-disability. Page 29 [accessed 12 January 2024]
  14. ^ United Nations. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) And Disability. (n.d.). https://social.desa.un.org/issues/disability/sustainable-development-goals-sdgs-and-disability Retrieved 2024-02-07
  15. ^ CBM Christian Blind Mission. Corona Response Fund – Update on Activities. (n.d.). https://www.cbm.org/news/news/news-2020/corona-response-fund-update-on-activities/ Retrieved 2024-02-07
  16. ^ Berman, Nina (2017-01-16). Germans on the Kenyan Coast: Land, Charity, and Romance. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253024374.
  17. ^ "BasicNeeds merged into Christian disability charity". 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-26.
  18. ^ Lisa Cornish, DevEx (2017). "New app to support disability in emergency response". Retrieved 2017-09-26.
  19. ^ CBM, Christian Blind Mission. "CBM in Numbers". CBM. CBM Christoffel-Blindenmission Christian Blind Mission. Retrieved 2023-05-25.
  20. ^ "Homepage". cbm US. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  21. ^ Jessica Fletcher, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of International Cooperation (2010). "Government of Canada Supports the Work of Christian Blind Mission International in Ethiopia". www.acdi-cida.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2017-09-26. Retrieved 2017-09-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Charity Navigator (2019). "Christian Blind Mission International". Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  23. ^ "CBM is devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities". CBM Australia. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  24. ^ "Charity Details". beta.charitycommission.gov.uk. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  25. ^ "Sightsavers and CBM". 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-26.
  26. ^ Christian Today staff writer (2017). "Christian charity CBM recognised for pioneering work on blindness". Retrieved 2017-09-26.