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Djimon Hounsou - Orbis Africa

Djimon Hounsou named Orbis Africa Continental Ambassador

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 is a South African registered non-profit organisation affiliated to Orbis International. From its head office in Cape Town, 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% of the world’s blind suffer from avoidable and curable conditions. Worldwide, an estimated 285 million people are visually impaired, with about 90% 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,” said Hounsou.

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 one’s vision, and curing avoidable blindness is arguably one of the most impactful initiatives to break the cycle of poverty, improve lifespan and enable access to education.

The Continental Ambassador campaign is the brain child of social entrepreneur and close friend of Hounsou, Tamer Makary who, together with Orbis Africa, will help drive the Campaign.

“The campain 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,” explained Makary.

“Orbis is delighted to be working alongside Djimon, Tamer and other important stakeholders. 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,” said Øverland.

For more information, contact:

Helen White
Director of Communications & Fundraising: Orbis Africa
m +27 82 824 2267 (SA) +1 917 460 6944 (USA)
e helen.white@orbis.org.za

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