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Amid despair, glimmers of light and hope everywhere

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 28 2011 12:12 a.m. MST

Magdalena Cuz and three of her 11 children inside her house in Seamay. They have running water with help from the LDS Church and fellow villagers.

Alan Gibby, Deseret News

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Editor's note: This week, the Deseret News is highlighting the best work over the last year in each of its six areas of editorial emphasis. Today, reporter Elizabeth Stuart reviews her year covering effective ways to care for the poor and needy, an assignment that has taken her from Guatemala to Africa.

There's something wrong with the cord. It's plugged into the laptop, but the little red charge light is, to my best friend's chagrin, not lighting up. Plopped down on the carpet in her Victoria's Secret sweats, bleach-blonde hair knotted on top of her head, she's been jiggling the cord for an hour trying to persuade it to work.

"I think it's broken," I tell her.

She responds with a wail. "It can't be broken," she says. "I can't live without my computer. My music, my Facebook, everything is on my computer."

I don't say anything.

Inside my head, I'm in Mozambique where I had just returned from a reporting assignment. I'm standing on the edge of a fresh grave, watching a father lower a child-sized coffin into the ground. Before he reaches for the shovel to fill the hole, he lovingly takes his little girl's only belongings and stacks them on top of the casket one by one. A cracked drinking cup. A tiny T-shirt. A doll made from sticks and wire.

We all do it. We get so absorbed in our day-to-day worries that we forget how lucky we are to have Facebook and hair dye and broken laptops. That's why the world needs journalists — to remind us life is bigger than our own experience.

It is my job, as the newspaper's care for the poor reporter, to bring the concerns and hopes of those with the greatest needs to the public gaze and to search out solutions to the most pressing problems, whether those answers are found in Africa, or in the story of an 11-year-old California boy who, using social media, raised enough money in just a few days to build a library in Malawi. While the world may contain pockets of darkness and despair, there are glimmers of light and hope everywhere.

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com

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