Let us open our eyes on blindness (PE nr. 1078)

the NGO that restores eyesight


Eye Care – Dieter Telemans

Blindness and visual impairment remain largely unknown to the public at large. Yet, these conditions involve nearly 285 million people worldwide, 39 million of whom are blind. It is all the more dramatic because more than 80% of all cases of blindness could be prevented or cured. Focusing on the global issue of avoidable blindness is precisely the core mission of the Belgian NGO, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD.

Eye care for all

The Belgian NGO LIGHT FOR THE WORLD has been striving for nearly 20 years to improve the quality of life of people with sight impairment. How? By making eye care accessible to the most vulnerable populations, by setting up eye units in the regions with the greatest needs. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Belgium developed a blueprint that can serve as a model for eye units, allowing them to tackle blindness in a sustainable and holistic way. The model encompasses many different aspects such as awareness raising and carrying out field missions in order to trace and identify patients. They also provide eye care and eye surgeries as well as organizing medical training for local personnel and making high quality medical equipment available. The NGO is working closely with local partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In 2015, the partner clinics of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Belgium held 173,408 consultations and performed 19,191 eye surgeries.

80% of all cases of blindness could be prevented. Blindness is not a fatality. The fact is that 80% of all cases of blindness and visual impairment is treatable and can be prevented at little cost. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in Africa. Of the more than 39 million blind people worldwide, approximately 50% are blind due to cataracts. In the Western world, cataract is a common condition that most often occurs in the elderly. However, in Africa, the disease also affects children. Yet the condition is easily treatable; cataract surgery costs only 40 € for an adult and 135 € for a child. Cataract surgery is an extremely cost-effective procedure. It is quite cheap and dramatically changes the patient’s life and that of his/her family.

Inclusive education

The second pillar of the strategy articulated by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Belgium is education for blind and visually impaired children. There are approximately 19 million children with impaired sight around the world and 1.4 million of them are blind. In developing countries, only 2% of the children with such a disability have access to education.

Blind and visually impaired children are often stigmatised because of their condition. They are treated like second-class citizens. The technical and educational tools needed for the education of these children are rarely available in the vast majority of the schools. Consequently, blind and visually impaired children are denied access to the educational system and to any hope for a better future.

In order to remedy this disastrous situation and to challenge prejudices, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Belgium is working closely with schools in order to introduce and develop inclusive education. Blind and visually impaired children are welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes (as opposed to specialized schools) and are taught together with sighted children. If need be, learning aids such as magnifying glasses, or writing frames are provided. Specially trained teachers help the integration process by supporting the children, the teachers and parents.

Inclusive education gives children with impaired sight the opportunity to develop their full social and educational potential. Moreover, they remain visible in their community.

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD Belgium is supporting inclusive education projects in Tanzania (Dodoma and Morogoro regions) and in DR Congo (Lubumbashi). Now, 419 blind and visually impaired children have been enrolled in the inclusive education programme.

More info www.lightfortheworld.be

International organization, 19 countries, 181 projects

The Belgian organization is part of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD international, a rapidly growing international organization with 11 members in Europe and Africa (Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Mozambique, Netherlands, South Sudan, Switzerland, United Kingdom).

With its 181 projects in 19 different countries, LIGHT FOR THE WORLD is committed to improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities in order to allow them to exercise fully their rights. It is dedicated to fighting for an inclusive society for all, where no one is left behind.

In 2015, more than 1.3 million people could participate in the different programmes set up by the members of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD. There are programmes aiming at eradicating trachoma in Ethiopia and Mozambique, at inclusive education in Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, at helping refugees with disabilities in the Lebanon, at vocational training for disabled people in Tanzania and Rwanda, at functional rehabilitation of children with disabilities in Burkina Faso, etc.

This international network makes it possible to develop a wide expertise in the field and to initiate lobbying of public authorities and governments, advocating the rights of people with disabilities.

More info on www.light-for-the-world.org/light-for-the-world

Communication Service of Light-for-the-world 
(Petit Echo nr. 1078)

“Where is my Heart”? 125 years of Evangelisation in Zambia (PE nr. 1078)

The title is just there to guide my thoughts but in the grand scheme of things it is also challenging to all of us.

Recently, I gave a talk to the Missionary Oblate students and they chose the title; “Formation as Missionary oriented.” My talk centred on the mission of St Paul; “Being all things to all people” (1Cor 9: 19-23). For me this is the heart beat of missionary life and this is what I saw and moved me with the White Fathers 25 years ago even before I joined them. Continue reading ““Where is my Heart”? 125 years of Evangelisation in Zambia (PE nr. 1078)”

The Province of the Americas is not dying! (PE nr. 1078)

The Post Capitular of the
Province of the Americas

The Province of the Americas numbers 128 Missionaries of Africa spread out over four sectors: 100 in Canada, 17 in the U.S.A, 6 in Mexico and 5 in Brazil. 33 other members from the AMS are present in Africa, Europe and Asia. Continue reading “The Province of the Americas is not dying! (PE nr. 1078)”

An opportunity to listen to each other and to encourage each other (PE nr. 1078)


In EPO (Ethiopia, Near East) we held our Post Capitular Assembly from 28th December 2016 to 31st December 2016 in Adigrat/Ethiopia. 8 confreres from Ethiopia and Jerusalem participated in the assembly. Our guest from the General Council was Martin Grenier and the Moderator was Dominic Apee Ayine. Continue reading “An opportunity to listen to each other and to encourage each other (PE nr. 1078)”

My Personal Prayer (PE nr. 1078)

Somehow looking back on my spiritual life, which began a good number of years before Vatican II, I realise that my life of prayer never came easy. I read many books on prayer and I always felt dissatisfied with what I read – dissatisfied because, for the most part, the description of the deeper prayer life seemed as though it was only accessible for the fortunate few. Thus, my own prayer life came across more as a litany of failure than somehow attaining some mystical heights. Continue reading “My Personal Prayer (PE nr. 1078)”

The writings of the Founder, testimony to his commitment and his charism (1867-1892) (PE nr. 1078)


The Missionaries of Africa and the MSOLA Sisters are acquainted with a good number of texts of the Founder, often those that express strong expressions on the mission, on community life, etc. Phrases such as “Be apostles and nothing but apostles” or “be not just united, but one” are often used to illustrate an image, to adorn a classroom/community room or to develop a reflection on our vocation. Continue reading “The writings of the Founder, testimony to his commitment and his charism (1867-1892) (PE nr. 1078)”

Remaining united to God, Growing in holiness and going forward together (Petit Echo nr. 1078)

Dear confreres,

I am delighted to be writing these few words to you from Ougadougou. I came here to take part in a training workshop for the Safeguarding Delegates for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults offered by our Committee for the Integrity of Ministry. This workshop takes place in the context of my first year as a member of our General Council, a year where I had a lot to discover and a lot to learn. Continue reading “Remaining united to God, Growing in holiness and going forward together (Petit Echo nr. 1078)”

Bernhard Hagen 1936 – 2016 (PE nr. 1077)

Coming back from this year’s visit to Ghana Bernhard didn’t feel well. He himself drove to the doctor in Rheine who diagnosed an acute heart problem. Bernhard was flown by helicopter to the heart clinic at Bad Rothenfelde. The same day he was operated on and received a triple bypass.
It went well but then he got a malaria attack with kidney and liver failure. The doctors put him into an artificial coma; and he never woke up. Continue reading “Bernhard Hagen 1936 – 2016 (PE nr. 1077)”

+Pedro Burgos López 1929 – 2016 (PE n°1077)

On Sunday, the 17th April 2016, at around 13.30 in the afternoon, our confrere Pedro Burgos López passed away peacefully in St. Joseph’s Nursing Home at Evere (Bruxelles). Fr. Jan Anthonissen was present; his faithful guardian angel for months, Sr. Doecita Van der Ven had just slipped out for a few minutes. Continue reading “+Pedro Burgos López 1929 – 2016 (PE n°1077)”

+Joaquín Algerías Joya 1944 – 2016 (PE n°1077)

On Monday 4th July 2016, Joaquín Algerías left us to join his Lord. He was born in Almócita, Almeria Province in Spain on the 12th April 1944. He was the son of Felipe and Dolores, and the youngest in a family of four brothers and sisters. He studied at the major Seminary of Almería and he was ordained priest on the 11th March 1971. Continue reading “+Joaquín Algerías Joya 1944 – 2016 (PE n°1077)”