Ceded leave builds cen­tre

Townsville Bulletin - - Talk Of North - By RACHELLE CHAP­MAN

THIS is the Sri Lankan com­mu­nity cen­tre Townsville built.

Townsville’s Mater Hospi­tal, with the help of its staff who gave up an­nual leave days, and the Ru­pertswood com­mu­nity raised more than $65,000 to build a cen­tre for tsunami­rav­aged Bat­ticaloa.

Two years on from the Box­ing Day dis­as­ter the cen­tre is com­plete and well used by the res­i­dents of the tiny fish­ing vil­lage.

Mater Hospi­tal CEO John Amery said the aim was to build a com­mu­nity cen­tre with mul­ti­ple uses, par­tic­u­larly for the town’s women and chil­dren.

‘‘We didn’t want the money to go into some­thing tem­po­rary, we wanted it to be a per­ma­nent thing that would ben­e­fit this gen­er­a­tion and the next,’’ Mr Amery said.

He said Townsville had a rea­son­able-sized Sri Lankan com­mu­nity so the city-funded build­ing was fit­ting. Mr Amery li­aised with Townsville Hospi­tal neona­tol­ogy di­rec­tor Dr John White­hall, who has worked closely with Sri Lankan com­mu­ni­ties and was well in­formed of the towns in most need.

Dr White­hall’s son, John White­hall Jnr acted as project di­rec­tor, su­per­vis­ing the Bat­ticaloa com­mu­nity cen­tre con­struc­tion from Sri Lanka.

It was com­pleted re­cently.

The Mater Hospi­tal do­nated $20,000 as staff gave up a day or more of an­nual leave with one staffer giv­ing up a week’s hol­i­day.

Mr Amery said the re­sponse from staff was over­whelm­ing, with em­ploy­ees more than happy to give up leave days for the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

A com­mu­nity day at Ru­pertswood raised $16,000.

The cen­tre is air­con­di­tioned and con­tains multi-func­tional rooms.

Mr Amery said the need for the cen­tre was even more vi­tal in the town be­cause it was in Tamal Tiger ter­ri­tory — and there­fore in the mid­dle of a war zone.

‘‘Those peo­ple re­ally need some­where like this to meet and sup­port each other,’’ he said.

a l s o

AF­TER THE FLOOD . . . a Sri Lankan wo­man plays with her son in a tsunami­rav­aged vil­lage

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