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"Cricket villages" opening in Sri Lanka

"Cricket villages" opening in Sri Lanka thanks to NZ tsunami effort

On Friday November 10, two "cricket villages" will be officially opened in Sri Lanka's Matara Province, a coastal area at the southern tip of the country, which was devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

They're called "cricket villages" because the newly constructed houses have been funded by money raised during the charity cricket matches held in New Zealand and Australia immediately after the tsunami hit.

Two New Zealand engineers, including Wellingtonian Tom Magill, have been toiling in Sri Lanka for more than a year to see the village openings become a reality.

"I feel very much connected to the Cricket Villages Project as I know that 99 families are housed today because of the generosity of the average Kiwi person who attended the cricket games in support of the tsunami relief," says Magill.

One village has such a strong Kiwi connection that two of the streets, named by the communities themselves, are: Sir Richard Hadlee Mawatha and Martin Crowe Mawatha, because cricket plays such and important part in their lives. "Mawatha" is the Sri Lankan word for "street".

Eight high profile Sri Lankan cricketers and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, Mr Jayantha Dharmadasa, will attend the village openings.

Over NZ$1million was raised at the charity cricket matches by New Zealand Cricket, World Vision and matching-funds provided through NZAID, the Government's international aid and development agency. The funds went to build "Mavan Atapattugama", the totally NZ-funded village of 99 houses and public amenities, including schools and school supplies. A nearby village was constructed with Australia Cricket funding and aid from World Vision Australia.

Both Tom Magill and Auckland engineer Murray Burt have experience in post-conflict situations and realised their expertise would be needed to help tsunami survivors reconstruct their country.

"With my construction background in post-conflict and natural disaster areas, I knew that I would be able to help. There is absolutely nothing like seeing life go back to normal Having children go back to school and securing homes for families who lost their houses," says Magill.

Tom Magill was appointed National Construction Advisor for Sri Lanka's reconstruction projects, and Murray Burt was construction manager for the South Zone. Both men are still working there, managing the reconstruction of houses, schools, hospitals, shops, training centres, as well as water supply and sanitation infrastructure.

Ends

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