Light for the World

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Formation1988 in Vienna, Austria
TypeNon-governmental organization
PurposeInternational development, blindness prevention, disability rights, community based rehabilitation, inclusive education
Region served
Managing Director International & Austria
Rupert Roniger
Managing Director Belgium
Isabelle Verhaegen
Managing Director Czech Republic
Čestmír Hrdinka
Managing Director The Netherlands
Dicky Nieuwenhuis
25.8 million (2016)
160 (2016)
Formerly called
CBM Austria, CBM Belgium, Dark & Light

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD is an international disability and development NGO aiming at an inclusive society. The organisation currently supports more than 185 programmes in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania dedicated to the restoration of eyesight, prevention of blindness, rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and promotion of their human rights.[1]


Following a major change in governance in early 2016, the organisational structure of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD is that of an international organisation with fully integrated core members and autonomous associated members. In 2008 a formal agreement of confederation had been signed by member organisations in Austria, Belgium and Czech Republic in order to strengthen collaboration and improve opportunities to distribute funds and resources. In April 2011, Dutch NGO Dark and Light joined LIGHT FOR THE WORLD.[2] Country Offices currently operate in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and South Sudan.

Core members:

  • LICHT FÜR DIE WELT - Christoffel Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (Austria)
  • SVĚTLO PRO SVĚT (Czech Republic)
  • LICHT FÜR DIE WELT Deutschland (Germany)

Associated members:

  • LIGHT FOR THE WORLD The Netherlands (Netherlands)

The overall income of the confederation LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in 2012 was €20.99 million. The foundation of the work is built on the commitment of over 150,000 individuals, who account for 57.9 per cent of total revenue. 14.2 per cent came from public bodies – mainly the European Union, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and the Czech Development Cooperation.[3][4]


  • Dark and Light was founded in 1982 by the ophthalmologist Martien Cozijnsen and his wife Jenny. The small 'family foundation' has grown into the biggest development organisation in the Netherlands working for the prevention of blindness and the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
  • The Austrian organisation LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was founded in 1988 in Vienna under the name "Christoffel-Blindenmission Austria". Among the first projects of the young Austrian organisation were eye care units and rehabilitation programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya.[5]
  • The Belgian branch of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was founded in 1997 under the name of Christian Blind Mission Belgium. One of the first programmes supported was CCBRT – an orthopaedic and eye care hospital and rehabilitation programme in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • In 1999 the initiative "VISION 2020 – The Right To Sight" was launched in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
  • LIGHT FOR THE WORLD has been an active participant in this global action plan to eliminate preventable blindness by the year 2020 right from the beginning.
  • In 2004, the Austrian organisation changed its name to LICHT FÜR DIE WELT - Christoffel-Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, the German language equivalent of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD. Austrian Federal President, Dr. Heinz Fischer, became patron of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD.
  • In 2007, the Czech branch of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was founded in Prague and currently supports programmes in Ethiopia.
  • In 2008 a formal agreement of confederation was signed by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in Austria, Belgium and Czech Republic in order to strengthen the collaboration in the program countries and to improve opportunities to distribute funds and resources.
  • In the same year, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD established a child sponsorship program to intensify and expand support for children with disabilities in developing countries.
  • In 2009 a cross-border Unit of Programme Support and International Advocacy (UPSA) was established. It contends for the rights of people with disabilities to establish a sustainable development policy on a European and international level.
  • In 2010, Austrian LICHT FÜR DIE WELT and Dutch Dark and Light struck an agreement with regard to projects on which they collaborated. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Austria took over responsibility for projects in Ethiopia and Pakistan, and Dark and Light did the same on Nepal and Sudan.
  • In 2011, Dark and Light joined the confederation and rebranded itself LIGHT FOR THE WORLD The Netherlands.
  • In 2012, Dark and Light changed its name to LIGHT FOR THE WORLD The Netherlands.

Key activities[edit]

Initially, prevention of blindness and restoration of eyesight were the most important sector focus in the programmatic work of Light for the World. Recent years have seen a widening of scope towards the promotion of Inclusive Education, Community Based Rehabilitation, and Disability Rights, all of which now feature prominently on the organisation's website.[6]

Light for the World commits itself to strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities and creating new opportunities, increasing mobility with the help of devices and starting initiatives that will provide education and incomes. Another objective is to raise awareness on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their family and social environment as well as in international, regional and national contexts. Raising public awareness on the situation of persons with disabilities in developing countries vis a vis United Nations and European Union bodies and other international actors forms an important part of Light for the World's work.

As stated in their activity report, Light for the World is currently active in the following partner countries: Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, South Sudan, Mozambique, Rwanda, DR Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Northeast India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Former partner countries, in which the confederation is no longer active, include Haiti, Togo, Nepal, Indoniesa, and Nigeria.[7]

On its website, the organisation cites the following guiding principles in cooperation with partners in the developing world [8]

  • Support local partners in underprivileged regions of the world in their work with and for people who are blind, have other disabilities or are at risk of becoming disabled.
  • Provide help irrespective of gender, ethnicity or religion and in particular to very underprivileged groups, such as women, children, indigenous peoples and marginal groups in society.
  • Act according to the needs of the people affected.
  • Programmes reach as many people as possible.
  • Support programmes leading to sustainable strengthening and social inclusion of people who are blind or have other disabilities in their communities.
  • Support programmes also in difficult periods and respond to current challenges with endurance, perseverance and flexibility.
  • To apply efficient and economical use of funds in projects and take into consideration principles of ecological and social sustainability and fair trade whenever possible.
  • Enable a global exchange of experiences regarding effective and efficient concepts in the programme areas that Light for the World support.


Internationally, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD is represented by the members of its International Board of Ambassadors: Paralympics winner Henry Wanyoike, Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein, former Austrian minister and EU commissar Benita Ferrero-Waldner, as well as disability inclusion activist Prof. Ron McCallum.[9]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Dark and Light Journaal, 22 April 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  2. ^ Light for the World welcomes Dark and Light Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-05-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Light for the World - Where we work (viewed on 12 July 2017)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-22. Retrieved 2010-05-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ International Board of Ambassadors on - viewed on 12 July 2017