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Home Feature Stories Great Love After Asia Tsunami A New School For Hambantota - A new community

A New School For Hambantota - A new community

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A new community
Siribopura used to be an indigent, backwater area in southern Sri Lanka. Most of its residents lived without the convenience of running water and electricity. But the area has been completely transformed with the resettlement project.

In addition to the new school, Tzu Chi's second phase of construction work included an assembly hall, a job training center, a neighborhood center in the Village, and a community center with a medical clinic.

Wang Ming-de (王明德) is a Tzu Chi construction commissioner from Taiwan. He has made numerous visits to Siribopura to monitor the construction quality of the Tzu Chi Great Love Village. He said, "Most people here rely on fishing for a living, but many of them are finding it increasingly difficult to support their families in this traditional occupation. There is a real need for a job training center to help those who are contemplating or are in need of a career change."

The job training center, managed by the government, has three classrooms. One type of training, for high school graduates, lasts one year. Others may enroll in programs lasting six months. The cost to participate in a training session is 250 rupees (US$2.30). Courses in culinary arts, tailoring, welding, and automobile repairs are being planned.

The medical clinic is located within the community center. It has two treatment rooms, a waiting lounge, a patient room, and an observation room. It even has a health education classroom. The neighborhood center, which covers 8,890 square feet, features two classrooms, an office, a great hall, and three shops. The assembly hall can hold up to 600 people. The village is located on a Hambantota city bus route, thus allowing easy transportation into and out of the community. Mobile library trucks, provided by the government, crisscross the vast 3,000-home village to spread intellectual nourishment.

As the village grows, residents have access to more and more services and programs. It is exciting to see so many practical plans being implemented for residents. The resettlement village in Siribopura is looking more and more like a full-functioning, vibrant community.

For green thumbs of all shades
Li Wen-jie (李文傑) is a Tzu Chi volunteer from Malaysia. The site for the Siribopura resettlement village was nothing but undeveloped woodland when he came to Hambantota with the first wave of aid groups after the tsunami. He witnessed a bulldozer scraping up the first scoop of earth as construction for the new village began.

When he returned three years after the tsunami, he saw the grand opening of Tzu Chi's second phase facilities. The Tzu Chi Great Love Village, completed and occupied more than a year earlier, looked quite different. The 649 resident families have lovingly decorated their sizeable yards with plants; the community is now lush with shrubs, flowers, fruit trees, and hedges.

Zheng Bang-wan (鄭邦完), from Taiwan, started a nursery in the Village when the first phase of construction began. Now the nursery's many seedlings have been transplanted, and they flourish throughout the Village, adding even more vitality to the surroundings. "When we were here during the construction, we bought jackfruit to eat. Of course, I toyed with their seeds at the nursery. And now look! We're now ended up with more than a thousand seedlings!" Zheng spoke like a proud father.

In harmony with nature
Guo Shu-sheng (郭書勝) also witnessed Siribopura's transformation from woodland to a 3,000-family community. He was the architect for the 649-unit residential portion of the Village as well as the second phase facilities. "In the beginning, the Village was just an idea on paper. But the love and hard work of so many people in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan moved this thought from the drawing board to a reality in Sri Lanka! It is also comforting to see that the residents are using their homes in ways that are very close to what I envisioned. The residents have put each part of the community to very creative and appropriate use. I am very touched by their ingenuity and mindfulness."

Guo designed ditches to run down the gentle slopes in the Great Love Village to channel run-off water to a man-made lake below the community. He also designed the lake. "The ditches drain water away before the rain can erode the soil. The lake collects water and acts as a buffer that regulates and staves off flooding." The whole system works exactly as he envisioned.

During the construction of the Great Love Village, the project was often hamstrung by a lack of water. Now the lake supplies water to the Village. Many trucks come to fill their water tanks, too. Furthermore, the lake has attracted wildlife back to the area. Peacocks and herons come to the lake to rest or feed as water buffaloes cool themselves in the water on hot summer afternoons. All this is happening with the newly built resettlement homes in the background's harmonious and soothing sight to behold.

By Qiu Shu-juan
Translated by Tang Yau-yang
Photographs by Lin Yan-huang
Source: Tzu Chi Quarterly Spring 2008


" We start to slacken the minute we find excuses for ourself. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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