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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 82

Child-friendly Yayawatte Village is handed over to its new residents

Munza Mushtaq - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 31 October, ( The largest of the post-tsunami housing projects of ‘Plan Sri Lanka,’ the new Child-friendly Village at Yayawatte consisting of 200 homes was officially handed over to its new community on October 12, 2006. Most of the beneficiaries have already settled down in their new homes and many have already added their own personal touches to decorate their homes.

The project handled by Plan Sri Lanka was funded and sponsored by Germany's leading travel company - TUI, and Plan Germany in an effort to bring hope to families who lost everything in the tsunami. TUI Director of Communications Uwe Kattwinkel and National Director Plan Germany, Marianne Raven came all the way from Germany to attend this memorable occasion.

Urban Development and Water Supply Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena, Railway Development Minister and Water Supply Deputy Minister, Mahinda Amarawera and Provincial Development Minister and Housing Construction Deputy Minister , Gunaratne Weerakoon were the chief guest on the occasion.

Plan Hambantota, Program Manager, Milton Batagoda and the entire staff of Plan Sri Lanka were present. Children were in the limelight from welcoming the guests to performing various dances and songs, keeping with Plan's child-friendly approach.

Each of the 200 houses that make up the Yayawatta Village has three bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom and toilet, and is complete with water, electricity and sanitation facilities. The village has an internal infrastructure of roads, green belts and child-friendly areas, and will also feature a multipurpose centre (to accommodate a cultural centre, health centre, post office and village office), Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre or pre-school, playground and children's park.

The families who are to live in the new village were selected by the Divisional Secretary of Tangalle, and Plan staff followed up the process to ensure that they were the most deserving of new homes. The construction contract was awarded to a semi-government agency, and the whole project was carried out under the supervision of the Plan's Project Manager.

At present, Plan Sri Lanka is in the process of compiling a homeowners' book for each family, which will include useful information for household maintenance (such as plumbing and electrical wiring diagrams), as well as tips on home gardening and composting.

Environmental protection was a key area that Plan looked into when constructing the village. The settlement is designed to be in harmony with the environment, with its layout providing ample green areas for planting of native trees and plants. Plan intends to work with a local NGO to carry out training and promote local awareness on environmental issues. We also hope to create a children's environmental club at Yayawatta, so that the future residents and their children will self-manage the village using good environmental practices.

Yayawatta's residents will include people from a diverse mix of professions, including fishermen, government clerks, teachers, small traders and people engaged in cottage industries. What they all have in common though is the loss they have suffered, and the determination to move on.

The new residents of Yayawatta have pledged to plant a tree in memory of each victim of the tsunami, and this beautiful idea of creating a living memorial has also been taken up by official visitors to the village site.

Plan Sri Lanka has been working hard on its many initiatives to help and support communities that were affected by the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. It has invested over 20 million US Dollars in its Tsunami response program, which includes housing, education, health, livelihoods and child protection projects, with funding from over 15 different countries As with all its projects, Plan has paid special attention to involving children in the design, planning and implementation of these initiatives.

- Asian Tribune -

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