Independent Living

Roukiatou was born with a congenital mobility impairment. A community-based rehabilitation worker put her on a path of self-reliance and independence.

Photo: Roukiatou with her family

CBR - Towards an independent life

Light for the World supports community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programmes in the most remote rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) is  a cost-effective sustainable intervention developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families, meet their basic needs and ensure their inclusion in society.

CBR is a multi-disciplinary approach which works in the areas of education, health, livelihood, inclusion in social life and empowerment.

Community health workers are trained to identify the beneficiaries who are often hidden by their families and to give them the necessary support which will enable them to become self-reliant individuals, escape the vicious circle of poverty and have equal opportunities to quality education, gainful employment and health services.

Through these programmes, children receive regular visits from CBR workers in their homes rather than getting treatment in institutions, away from familiies. CBR workers evaluate the individual needs of children. For example, the child might require immediate medical attention, physiotherapy, crutches, a wheelchair, hearing aids or spectacles. In addition, CBR workers show parents how they can support and strengthen their child who has cerebral palsy or deformed legs with specific physiotherapy exercises.

CBR also has a positive impact on the inclusion of disabled people within a community. The programmes take place directly in the village, in order to involve parents, friends, and neighbours.

What we do

  • We give individual care at home.
  • We work with local education, vocational training, and health ministries to ensure that they include children and youth with disabilities in their programmes.
  • We involve parents, neighbours and friends to change the common perception that disability is a curse on the family.
  • We work with schools, teachers, employers, and providers of vocational training to ensure that they keep welcoming children and youth with disabilities in their establishments.
  • We advocate for rights of persons with disabilities by contributing to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In the media: Prof. Tom Shakespeare reports on his visit to our CBR programme in Mozambique

Livelihood programmes

Our livelihood programmes, which are closely intertwined with our CBR work, ensure that people with disabilities successfully integrate in the job market. The aim of our rehabilitation, inclusive education, and livelihood programmes is to guarantee that people with disabilities are able to live independently, make a living for themselves and their families, and be an equal part of society.

In October 2010, WHO, UNESCO, ILO, and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) approved a new set of CBR Guidelines. As part of IDDC, Light for the World was involved in developing these guidelines. We have produced a CBR Training Manual. CBR can also have a global impact by contributing to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Portrait of Marieke Boersma. Credit: Jaco Klamer

Senior Advisor on CBR: Marieke Boersma

+251 920 65 65 11
m.boersma [at]

What we do

Photo: Nefissa Bedru flashes a smile after her successful trachomatic trichiasis surgery. Credit: Ulrich Eigner

Nefissa's smile has returned. Thanks to Light for the World's medical outreach programme she is once again in charge of her daily life. Cataract surgery has enabled her to care for her children again.

Martine Bilgo gives interviews Photo: M.Bron

Martine once was a client in one of our CBR projects. She successfully graduated to become a teacher. Today she works in a school which is linked to a Light for the World CBR project.

Igliassu is playing with his school friends

A year ago, Igliassu could not even walk because one of his legs was much shorter than the other. LIGHT FOR THE WORLD helped him enrol in an inclusive school together with his peers.