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Moya Brennan visits South America as goodwill ambassador

From the green fields of Ireland to the slums of one of South America's poorest cities.

When Moya Brennan took on the role of Goodwill Ambassador for CBM (Christian Blind Mission) she knew it might not be easy. But she has not let distance and discomfort hinder her desire to get a better understanding of the work that the mission is involved in.

Moya returned from a visit to South and Central America recently, during which she performed fund-raising concerts with football legend Pelé's wife, Assiria Nascemento, and travelled with CBM-backed workers into the slums of Recife, Brazil, with a mobile eye clinic.

Brazil has recently seen a huge escalation of violent street crime and kidnapping has become almost of regular form of income for some. It has a murder rate four times higher that the USA.

"When a large portion of the urban population lives in slums and there are 12 million children living homeless on the streets of Brazil, we don't know the meaning of the word poverty," says Moya. "I visited rat-infested one-room homes built from scrap wood and cardboard with whole families living on top of each other. I hope that sharing a few light-hearted moments with them brought a glimmer of hope into their hard lives.

"Blindness is an obvious handicap which sets people apart in these places", Moya adds, "but I am thrilled to be representing an organisation which actively seeks out and treats people who are desperately marginalised by other disabilities as well."

Moya travelled from Brazil to Belize for the opening of a new school for abused children, run by the UK-based Liberty Foundation and backed by CBM. During the evening she brought together the Belizean Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Leader of the Opposition and UK Conservative party Deputy Chairman, Lord Ashcroft who has extensive business and charitable interests in Belize.

CBM has been largely responsible for eradicating cataracts throughout Belize.

In 2004, Moya fled civil unrest in the Congo, returning last year with CBM workers to airlift three children from isolated jungle villages in the north of the country for crucial eye operations in the capital, Kinshasa. She has also visited CBM's community based work and field eye hospitals in Rwanda.

Back home for autumn Moya releases a new studio album, Signature, on 9 October and travels to the USA in December to promote her seasonal album, An Irish Christmas.

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