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The Financial Times has selected international development charity Sightsavers for its 2011-2012 seasonal appeal to readers.

The seasonal appeal, which runs from November to mid-January, has raised £6m in the past five years for its featured charities. Sightsavers, chosen for this year’s appeal by a worldwide FT staff vote, aims to change the lives of some of the 39 million people in the world who are blind, focusing on developing countries including Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan. The organisation has a vision of a world where no one is blind from avoidable causes and where visually impaired people participate equally in society.

The appeal will officially launch on 30 November at a photography auction at London’s Getty Gallery, with all proceeds going to the charity.

Lionel Barber, the FT’s editor, said: “The FT is delighted to be partnering with Sightsavers for this year’s appeal. It is a critical time to be generating support, as current economic difficulties mean the vulnerable populations Sightsavers works with face increasing hardship. We look forward to visiting some of the countries where the charity operates to bring their work to life through extensive editorial coverage, both in print and online.”

Sightsavers chief executive, Caroline Harper, said: “We are so excited to have been selected to partner with the Financial Times, as it will enable us to change the futures of those in the world’s poorest countries who are blind for the lack of access to simple and cost-effective treatments. It can cost us as little as £17 to restore the sight of someone living with blindness and in doing so we can transform the lives of that individual, their family and even their community.”

Sightsavers works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent and cure blindness, and to support those who are visually impaired through education and training. Working with its local partners, in 2010 Sightsavers protected over 23 million people against river blindness; performed over 270,000 sight-restoring cataract operations; and treated over one million people for trachoma. It also supports the vital training of health professionals, the promotion of independence for people who are blind and inclusive education for blind and visually impaired children.

To double the impact of the appeal, Standard Chartered Bank, a strong supporter in the fight against avoidable blindness, has generously agreed to match all donations through its long-standing community investment programme, Seeing is Believing. This means that for every £1 donated another £1 will be given by Seeing is Believing, helping Sightsavers to bring vital eye services to some of the poorest communities in the world.

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