Ernst Jakob Christoffel
A Tradition of Helping
The Founder: Ernst Jakob Christoffel
Ernst J. Christoffel was born in 1876 in Rheydt in the Rhineland, Germany. He was a pastor and founded the Christian Blind Mission in the Orient which he directed for many years. There were two occasions when he seemed to be standing on the edge of an abyss.
In 1908 he set off on a journey to Turkey and founded a home for the blind, otherwise disabled and orphans in Malatia in south-east Anatolia. He was supported by only a small group of friends. During the political revolution in 1919, Christoffel was expelled.
As soon as he was no longer forbidden to enter the country, Christoffel set out for Anatolia, but he could not use the house in Malatia. Attempts to make a new start in Istanbul resulted in a ban. Christoffel travelled further to Iran. Between 1925 and 1928 he set up two homes for blind and otherwise disabled young people in Tebris and Isfahan.
In the Second World War everything was perished again. However, Christoffel did not want to abandon his fosterlings. In 1943 he was arrested and had to spend three years in detention camps. Nevertheless his will was unbroken.
In 1951, when the political situation had improved somewhat, Christoffel - by this time over 70 and frail - again set out for Isfahan in order to do what he had seen as his task throughout his entire life: to help the disabled, impoverished and abandoned. Ernst J. Christoffel died on 23 April 1955 in Isfahan. The inscription on his gravestone in the town''s Armenian cemetary reads "Father of the blind, deaf and dumb and children of nobody".
"I have always rejected one principle and still do so today, that is, to find out weather the person receiving help is worthy of doing so or not. As soon as I come across this principle, either at home or elsewhere, I become angry. What does it mean to be worthy or unworthy of support? Where would we be if God were to deal with us in this way?"
"The deed of love is the sermon that everyone understands."
A Tradition of helping
1908: Pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel founded the first home for blind, deaf and dumb and disabled persons in Turkey.
1955: Christoffel died at the age of 78 in Isfahan/Iran.
1956: After his death, the "Christian Mission for the Blind in the Orient" was re-named after its founder "Christoffel-Blindenmission (Christian Blind Mission)".
Ernst Jakob Christoffel''s idea lives on. It has been implemented by the foundation of sister organisations in Europe, Australia and America. Its field of activity is being extended to many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
1988: LIGHT FOR THE WORLD - Christoffel Development Cooperation was founded as an independent Austrian association entitled "Christoffel-Blindenmission".
1992: 10.000 Donors made it possible to support 5 projects in the developing world.
1996: For the first time the Austrian federal government supported the work of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD and sponsored a training programme for ophthalmological experts in Kikuyu/Kenya.
1996: Ecumenical initiative against child blindness unter the patronage of Cardinal Franz K?nig and the Protestant Bishop Herwig Sturm.
1999: Launch of the worldwide initiative "VISION 2020. The Right to Sight" with the aim of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020. Austrian President Thomas Klestil took on patronage for the Austrian Initiative Against Blindness.
2000: LIGHT FOR THE WORLD initiated a national programme for the prevention of blindness in Ethiopia.
2001: 100.000 donors made it possible to support 56 projects in the developing world.
2001: LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was one of the first charities to receive the Austrian Seal of Quality for Donations.
2001: An eye clinic was set up in Jijiga, Ethiopia, to provide care for 1.7 million people in the east of the country.
2003: Launch of an ophthalmological programme in central Mozambique. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD supports the eye department at the provincial hospital in Beira.
2004: For the first time, the EU approves to support a project for LIGHT FOR THE WORLD: In cooperation with CBM Germany and CBM Belgium a comprehensive community based rehabilitation programme is expanding its services in Tanzania.
2004: LIGHT FOR THE WORLD - Christoffel Development Cooperation is introduced as the new name of the former Austrian "Christoffel-Blindenmission".
2004: Austrian President Heinz Fischer patron of the Austrian Initiative against Blindness
2004: An eye clinic was set up in Zorgho, Burkina Faso, to provide care for 2.5 million people in the South-East of the country. There was no ophthalmic infastructure until the clinic was opened in December 2004.
2005: start of the initiative "?sterreicher retten Augenlicht" (Austrians save eyesight) in cooperation with more than 120 ophthalmologists.
2005: launch of the initiative "Behinderten Kindern Zukunft schenken" ("Give disabled children a future") to support children with disabilities
2006: Adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD advocated for the inclusion of disabled persons in development cooperation and for their active participation in this process.
2007: On 30 March, Austria is one of the first countries to sign the "UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" at the UN Head Quarters in New York.
2007: On August 29, SV?TLO PRO SV?T - LIGHT FOR THE WORLD was founded in Prague, as a sister organisation to LIGHT FOR THE WORLD
LIGHT FOR THE WORLD starts a new childsponsorship programme for the sustainable support of disabled children in developing countries. More information (german): www.kinderpate.at