Sydney
9 February 2003

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Canada Bay names top citizen

Lance Brooks, founder of Communities for Communities, has been named Canada Bay's citizen of the year.

It is a new Australia Day award, part of an initiative to recognise the good work of people in their local area.

Lance won the award for his work in organising local social events to fund education and development projects for Burmese refugee families in the village of Ranong on the Thai-Burma border.

"It was very exciting but most importantly from my point of view it is more publicity for Communities for Communities," says Lance.

"I'm just the figurehead and there are lots of other people working with me, so I'm taking the credit for them as well."

Lance says he is proud of the achievements of the local organisation that began with just a handful of friends with a great idea who teamed up with Caritas and the Jesuit Refugee Service to fund the projects in Ranong.

Canada Bay residents have been enthusiastic from the start, attending fundraising events such as yoga classes in a local park, movie screenings and trivia nights organised since June last year.

Now there are already five schools for 380 children in Ranong, where before there was no opportunity for the children to get an education.

The next goal is to help other local communities find projects overseas to support, says Lance.