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Award winning journalist comes to Wellington

Award winning journalist comes to Wellington

Award-winning Ugandan journalist Geoffrey Kalebbo comes to Wellington this week with a question. "I have always wondered what drives you (New Zealand donors) to do what you do for our people."

Kalebbo is visiting New Zealand for a month to speak to World Vision volunteers and supporters at conferences and meetings throughout the country.

He will be speaking at World Vision's Wellington Volunteers Conference at Waikanae Christian Holiday Park, on Saturday November 11 and at public meetings on November 13 at Blueprint Church, Garret Street, Lower Hutt at 12.30pm, and at Petone Baptist Church, at 7.30pm.

As World Vision's East Africa Communications Manager, Kalebbo oversees work in nine countries – countries he says are often in the news, for all the wrong reasons.

Kalebbo's first assignment at World Vision was to northern Uganda in 1999, at the height of the LRA's powers. As a journalist fresh from the newsroom, he says it was a shock. "It was no longer a story. It was about real children –insecure in their homes; living in congested camps under squalid conditions, where many die of treatable diseases." He tells of meeting Grace, abducted at the age of 13, sexually abused by officers of the LRA, given a gun and taught how to kill.

Grace managed to escape and fled to World Vision's centre in Gulu, where she knew she would get food and protection. Now she is studying to be a hotelier.

"This would not have been possible without selfless people like you," says Kalebbo, of New Zealand donors.

He tells of the struggle he feels as a journalist and a father when he has to take a photo of a starving child in Ethiopia, "so the world will know that what we were talking about was real".

He tells of the conflict aid workers face when there are not enough anti retroviral drugs for AIDS patients.

"Tell you what? When choices have to be made whether to treat the parent or the child born with the virus –that privilege will go to the parent. The child will be left to die."

He sees his visit to New Zealand as a 'reporting back' to donors, supporters and volunteers. "When the world heard about the suffering children in Uganda, Sudan, Somalia … you took up the challenge to stand in the gap."

ENDS

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