LOS ANGELES, June 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou was named Africa's Continental Ambassador by international not-for-profit organization Orbis on June 4. The announcement was made during the launch of Orbis's next-generation Flying Eye Hospital, the world's only ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft, donated by FedEx.
"We are thrilled that Djimon Hounsou, a native son of Benin and spokesperson for the Continent, has joined forces with Orbis Africa. The organic nature of our partnership will serve to amplify the impact we are able to make and increase the attention this worthwhile cause can attract," said Lene Øverland, CEO of Orbis Africa. Orbis Africa works in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce preventable and treatable blindness and visual impairment on the continent.
In his role, Hounsou looks to draw attention and prompt immediate action towards the inexcusable issue of avoidable blindness in Africa.
A staggering 80 percent of the world's blind suffer from avoidable and curable conditions. Worldwide, an estimated 285 million people are visually impaired, with about 90 percent living in low-income countries. Africa, being the continent with the highest prevalence, has an estimated 4.8 million blind and 16.6 million people living with severe to moderate visual impairment.
"What I appreciate most is the success that Orbis has enjoyed over its distinguished 30-year history and the level of transparency it has demonstrated in converting funding into a direct impact on people's lives. This impact is not only felt by those successfully operated on and given the gift of sight, but also the trained practitioners, empowered with the skills to continue serving their communities. This is a cause worth advocating for and just the type of impact-led organization that the world needs to support," Hounsou said.
With his roots firmly grounded in Africa, Hounsou is passionate about doing what he can to ensure the Continent's children can visualize and achieve a brighter future. He believes that if every child can better see the world they live in, they will feel empowered and equipped to change it. Restoring vision and curing avoidable blindness are arguably the initiatives with the most impact on breaking the cycle of poverty, increasing lifespan and enabling access to education.
At the event, Djimon also unveiled the upcoming BLINK.BELIEVE. campaign, aimed at raising the required financial resources and forging the necessary partnerships to deliver high quality eye care services to those in need, while empowering communities with social programs.
BLINK.BELIEVE. is the brainchild of social entrepreneur and close friend of Hounsou, Tamer Makary, who, together with Orbis Africa, will help drive the campaign.
"The BLINK.BELIEVE. movement represents a fresh take on an old problem. Advocacy and awareness is key, which is why the support of credible influencers is crucial. Most avoidable blindness has a known cure—a cure that can be both time- and cost-efficient. It is now just a matter of further refining a model of comprehensive and inclusive service delivery, to rid the world of an avoidable problem and guarantee all people their inalienable right to sight," Makary said.
BLINK.BELIEVE. is expected to formally launch by December 2016. In the interim, the campaign will look to partners in the areas of eye health, education, media and community engagement to ensure a fully integrated, collaborative and commercial approach to not only eliminating avoidable childhood blindness, but also empowering the next generation of African youth to realize their full potential.
"Orbis is delighted to be working alongside Djimon, Tamer and other important stakeholders--such as Landor, our brand strategists and creative partners—in bringing this movement to life. Together we will aim to propel the next generation of Africans into a brighter and clearer future, ensuring that no matter the means, each individual is given an equal chance in life," Øverland said.
Orbis is a leading global non-governmental organization that has been a pioneer in the prevention and treatment of blindness for over 30 years. Orbis transforms lives by delivering the skills, resources and knowledge needed to deliver accessible quality eye care. Working in collaboration with local partners including hospitals, universities, government agencies and ministries of health, Orbis provides hands-on ophthalmology training, strengthens healthcare infrastructure and advocates for the prioritization of eye health on public health agendas. Orbis operates the world's only Flying Eye Hospital, a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft. To learn more about Orbis and how to get involved, please visit Orbis.org/launch and follow the organization's work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
ABOUT ORBIS AFRICA
Orbis Africa is a South African registered non-profit organization affiliated to Orbis International. Orbis Africa works in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce preventable and treatable blindness and visual impairment on the continent.
+27 82 824 2267 (South Africa)
+1 917 460 6944 (USA)
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