Ceded leave builds centre
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