A Better World co-founder Eric Rajah is one of six Albertans this year to receive the province’s highest honour for citizens — the Alberta Order of Excellence.
For 21 years, the international development organization based in Lacombe has delivered life-changing encouragement and support to people in need around the world by funding education, infrastructure, health, food security and other projects.
The Alberta Order of Excellence recognizes Albertans who have made outstanding provincial, national or international impact.
“All Albertans can be proud of the work these remarkable citizens have accomplished,” said Premier Ed Stelmach in a press release announcing the names of the recipients.
“They deserve to be honoured for their many contributions to our province, along with our sincere thanks for their service as distinguished ambassadors of the Alberta spirit.”
Rajah, 52, grew up in Sri Lanka. Before he was born, two missionaries from Lacombe visited his mother’s village and helped her get an education.
“That’s what enabled us to immigrate to Canada and I said one day if I’m successful in Canada, I will give back,” Rajah said on Tuesday.
He’s happy A Better World continues to help improve people’s lives.
“The problem is people go and focus on what can’t be done. I go and see what can be done. It’s small. I’d never say what we’re doing is huge. But we are making a difference.”
And it couldn’t have been done without Central Albertans, he said.
“It couldn’t have happened if the people didn’t believe in it. I’d like to share (the Order of Excellence) with the people of Central Alberta.”
Last year, A Better World helped to build a bridge between two towns in Kenya and through a joint effort, helped to build a pipeline that supplied clean drinking water to 30,000 people in the Sudan.
In June, Rajah and other A Better World volunteers will go to the Sherbergan district in Afghanistan, where the charity is committed to building 100 classrooms.
Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell will preside over the investiture ceremony in Edmonton on Oct. 19. Others to receive the award this year include Patricia Blocksom, Martin Cohos and Aritha van Herk, of Calgary; Bruce Hogle, of Edmonton; and Walter Paszkowski, of Sexsmith.
The Order of Excellence was established in 1979. Including this year’s recipients, a total of 115 Albertans will have received the award.