Why am I involved with cbm?

29 November 2016 – by Tony McLean

cbm International is an aid organisation that works with disabled people in the poorest countries of the world. It shares a common vision with Life Unlimited for an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. cbm board member Tony McLean writes about why he’s involved with this organisation.

Tony McLean

Tony is a senior manager at ImagineBetter, a national NGO focused on social change and Board Member of cbm New Zealand.

Tena Koutou Katoa,

For more than twenty-three years I’ve been incredibly blessed to have worked in a wide variety of paid and voluntary capacities with people who society has largely excluded, or simply pushed to the margins.  Many of these contexts have brought me face-to-face with the impact that disability has on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.

I have held a variety of roles in the disability support system of Aotearoa New Zealand and am currently the Community Development Manager at Imagine Better, an organisation that partners with people living with disabilities and their families as they imagine, plan and go after good things in life.

How I first heard about cbm

My first encounter with the cbm New Zealand team was in 2011 at a conference in Wellington. I knew instantly that this was a group of people committed to and passionate about making the world a better place for people living with a disability and their families.

That day, I heard the heart of people who understood the significant challenges ahead and with infectious passion called others to the realities of the poorest of the poor and the double injustices of disability (especially preventable disability) and poverty.  I signed up as a volunteer the very next week.

Joining the board

In early 2015 I was approached about joining the cbm New Zealand Board. It was a real honour to be considered for such a role and one that was accepted with a deep desire to add to the wonderful work of all those that have gone before.

My first twelve months have been a steep learning curve. cbm New Zealand is such an incredible organisation to be a part of, so small on the global stage but one that contributes significantly to the lives of thousands of individuals in some of the world’s poorest countries.  Deepening my understanding of just how effective cbm NZ is at practically assisting the poorest of the poor, has only fuelled my fire for us to do more.

Suryati and Tony

Tony talking with Suryati, a local entrepreneur whose small business loan from cbm has enabled him to purchase chickens from local farmers with disabilities and sell them at the market at a profit.

Trip to Indonesia

In May 2016 I was incredibly fortunate to travel to one of cbm New Zealand programmes in Kulon Progo, Indonesia with Linabel Hadlee, cbm New Zealand’s International Programmes Manager and the programme team. The purpose of the trip was to undertake a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of the work we have been supporting there over the last three years.

To personally see the impact on real people’s lives was an incredibly humbling experience for me. This single programme which focuses on micro finance and micro business development has fundamentally changed the lives of hundreds of people. I was able to meet many of them, talked with them (through interpreters) and receive their thanks and gratitude.

More about cbm

cbm is an international Christian development charity that seeks to support those living with the double disadvantage of living in poverty and with a disability. cbm provides diversified services where needed most in the areas of eye care, ear health, livelihoods, education, rehabilitation, Neglected Tropical Diseases, advocacy and emergency response. Last year cbm provided medical services to over 10 500 000 people across 63 countries. Learn more at www.cbmnz.org.nz.