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Lacombe weekly wins award for Africa series

March 28, 2008, 3:11 PM

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National award winner Lisa Joy spent two weeks in Kenya visiting aid projects operated by a humanitarian group located in Lacombe, Alberta.

Having a world-class humanitarian organization in your community presents some great opportunities for news coverage – even if you have to travel all the way to Africa. For Lisa Joy, Editor of the Lacombe Globe, that commitment to quality coverage won her a national community-newspaper award.

She spent two weeks in Africa with a delegation from A Better World, the Lacombe-based humanitarian organization. In the community of 12,000 midway between Calgary and Edmonton, Joy had written previously about A Better World but was pleasantly surprised when Executive Director Eric Rajah arranged for her to join a group visiting aid projects in Kenya.

“We crisscrossed the country by safari vans, small aircraft – landing and taking off on gravel runways – and by small boat on the Indian Ocean,” Joy recalls of the trip last November. One aid project was educating the Maasai people in the Masai Mara-Serengeti plains, where A Better World has financed two schools. Another project saw electrical power switched on at a 100-year-old hospital in Kendu Bay, where the Lacombe organization had previously provided generators and then helped to lobby the Kenyan government for a more permanent solution. Four articles published in the Lacombe Globe last year (the six-part series concluded this year) won the 2008 prize from the Canadian Community Newspapers Association for Best Feature Series in the under-4,000 circulation category.

“The job of a weekly newspaper editor/reporter can be thankless sometimes, and no matter how hard you try, it seems like you can never please everyone,” says Joy. “Then along came this chance of a lifetime and a national award. Dreams do come true.”

If the national award was the icing on the cake, “the sprinkles was learning a week later that Sun Media picked up my stories to go national.”

In addition to reporting and writing, Joy shot more than 1,600 photos.

Joy thanks her Publisher, Mary-Ann Kostiuk, and Group Publisher, Neil Sutcliffe, for letting her take part in the three-week trip.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the community group itself.

A Better World (ABW) was founded in 1990 as a non-denominational humanitarian group. With no paid workers, the non-profit organization supports projects ranging from orphanages, to schools for the deaf, disabled and underprivileged, to holding free medical and eyeglass clinics.

“A Better World gives a hand up and not a hand out,” says Joy, “by aiming at reducing poverty in developing nations through education, infrastructure, community development, health, food security and income generating projects.

“It is truly amazing how ABW has managed to mobilize he entire community here in Lacombe to give of their time, money or talent to serve the less fortunate around the world. Many local schools and organizations have done fundraisers to help ABW, so many talented people locally, paramedics, nurses, administrators, farmers, you name it, have also volunteered and travelled with ABW.”

Sun Media’s Lacombe Globe has been involved by covering the activities of the humanitarian group in the community as well as in Africa.

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