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What decades of leading the way towards an inclusive society truly mean

Greta, wearing glasses, and Rupert smile as they look at something on a tree.
Thanks to her glasses, Greta sees well. She can go to school and follow lessons easily.
  • General
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Eye Health
  • Inclusive Education

In August 2022, founder Rupert Roniger handed over responsibility for Light for the World after 27 years at its helm. In nearly three decades, Light for the World has developed into an international development organization of over 250 employees, specializing in the fields of eye health and disability inclusion. Its programmes span several countries and focus on eye health, inclusive education and economic empowerment for people with disabilities.

Together, we have reached close to 16 million people with disabilities and eye diseases, providing over 1.3 million eye surgeries and helping more than half a million children with disabilities access education, among other activities. We have strengthened health and education systems. We have made the voices of people with disabilities heard in their struggle for basic human rights and to build an inclusive society.

– Rupert Roniger, Founder of Light for the World

A heart for eye health

Light for the World saves eyesight in low-income countries. The development organization is best known for cataract surgeries. It carried out 42,551 cataract surgeries in 2021 alone, most of them in Ethiopia. To reach as many people as possible, Light for the World expands its eye care activities with local partners.

  • Light for the World has strengthened local healthcare systems by setting up a network of large eye clinics and smaller drop-in centres to provide medical care in countries like Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Mozambique. The organization has also established a regional eye care center in Beira, the capital of Mozambique. 20,000 eye examinations and more than 1,600 eye operations are performed in this centre every year.
  • Light for the World trains local ophthalmologists, optometrists and health workers in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Uganda. Further required studies and training are developed in cooperation with local partners.
  • Together with the Ministry of Health in Uganda, Light for the World has set up a nationwide system in order to prevent children from dropping out of school simply because they have poor eyesight (NIURE).

The importance of inclusive education

Education is a human right and is the basis for a self-determined future. In certain regions of the world, more than 40 percent of children with disabilities do not attend school. Light for the World believes in the potential of every child and aims to eliminate discrimination against children with disabilities and to make inclusive education possible. In 2021, Light for the World helped 9,631 children with disabilities attend school, primarily in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

  • Light for the World has developed inclusive education programmes that serve as models for other actors in the sector in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and South Sudan.
  • Transforming special schools, such as schools for the blind, into local knowledge centres brings countries closer to the goal of providing inclusive education for all children.
  • Teachers receive training on how to teach inclusively, helping them provide daily support for children with disabilities.

Employment without barriers

Education and training, regardless of age, are the basis for employment. Light for the World takes a multifaceted approach so that all people can develop their potential. The organization builds capacity for successful (micro)entrepreneurship and supports people with disabilities entering the workforce. Light for the World also guides companies towards more inclusivity. In 2021, Light for the World provided economic support to 7,874 people with disabilities.

  • Light for the World enables people with disabilities to access work and entrepreneurship so they can be financially independent. “Make 12,4 % work” is one of its successful initiatives in Uganda.
  • Light for the World makes vocational training programs, such as “Young Africa” in Mozambique, accessible to everyone.
  • Light for the World trains Inclusion Advisors to accompany companies towards becoming inclusive employers. After starting in Uganda, these teams are now also changing the working environments in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and South Sudan.

”I am confident that the committed and highly professional team at Light for the World will carry on our work for people with disabilities. This work is still very much needed, to be able to live in an inclusive society. I remain connected to Light for the World and will support the organization in whatever capacity may be needed.”

Rupert Roniger, Founder of Light for the World

Marion Lieser is now in charge of the international management of Light for the World and will continue its work towards enabling eye health services and empowering people with disabilities.

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