BackgroundIn 1988 a group of dedicated people met in Vienna to mobilize help for blind and otherwise disabled people in developing countries, following the ideals of Ernst Jakob Christoffel. The organisation they founded was initially named Christoffel Blind Mission Austria.
Among the first projects of the young Austrian organisation were eye care units and rehabilitation programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya. In 1996 the Austrian Government started to collaborate with LIGHT FOR THE WORLD supporting a training programme for ophthalmologic staff in Kikuyu, Kenya, as part of Austrian Development Cooperation. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in Belgium 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 Organisation (WHO). LIGHT FOR THE WORLD has been an active member in this global action plan to eliminate preventable blindness by the year 2020 since the beginning. As part of the implementation of a national blindness prevention programme in Ethiopia in 2000 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD established a much needed eye care department, in Jijiga, Somali Region.
Since 2003 LIGHT FOR THE WORLD has been involved in developing the eye care department of the Kabgayi hospital in Rwanda.
In 2006 the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD has advocated successfully to include International Development Cooperation in the UN Convention. Today, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD is one of the leading European NGOs in their core areas of work. As of 2014, they are supporting 185 programmes in 26 countries.