Aussies show their support as Kushil tours down-under

In a flying visit to pay tribute to the many Australians who gave their time, effort and money to help rebuild the Seenigama region after the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Kushil attended a slew of functions to let FoG supporters know that their generosity is continuing to make lives better on a daily basis. With a packed itinerary that saw him visit three capitals in one week, Kushil made it his mission to thank the people of Australia for their continued interest and show them how, with FOG’s facilitation, Seenigama is moving forward in leaps and bounds.

‘The Foundation of Goodness has a vision for a future where rural inhabitants can enjoy the same opportunities as their city cousins – something I think Australians appreciate’, he said. ‘This visit gave me an opportunity to offer sincere thanks for what Australian support has made possible in a village that only two years ago was in ruins.’

The tour included several outstanding events which highlight the strong partnerships between Australian donors and FoG.

Perth – 11th January

Perth’s Lord Mayor Dr Peter Nattrass hosted a reception in recognition of the Perth City Council’s collaboration with FoG to build 30 houses in Seenigama as part of their ‘Adpot-a-village’ program.

Attendees included FoG supporters Frank Crawley - the Hon. Counsel for Sri Lanka in Perth, former Australian cricketer and Chief Executive of the Western Australian Cricket Association Tony Dodemaide, and Mr Willie Weerasekera, an ardent supporter of FoG who has contributed to its development in numerous ways, including co-ordinating the ‘Adopt-a-village’ project in Seenigama. Also present at this function was Miss Jillian Ray, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD) who joined FoG three months prior to the tsunami and became heavily engaged in the post-tsunami operations after witnessing the destruction caused by the waves.

Sydney – 14th January

The Founders of Goodness Sydney branch hosted an event at which Kushil paid tribute to the state’s donors. He acknowledged the efforts of the branch members, in particular enthusiastic supporters Andrea Pereira, Crystal & Melissa Martin and patron Mr Harry Solomons, as well as Mr Doug Crosby who has made significant donations to the Foundation’s cause. Kushil also lunched at the New South Wales Cricket grounds with its Chairman Robert E Horsell and Chief Executive Dave Gilbert. Cricket New South Wales have made a substantial contribution to the Seenigama Oval Accommodation Centre, as well as pledging to send some of their junior teams to visit the village and play cricket, all thanks to the efforts of Mr Harry Solomons.

Melbourne - 19th January

A major highlight of Kushil’s trip was his visit to Melbourne, where he delivered a presentation at the Knox Restaurant to attendees including Chief Guests the Victorian Deputy Premier John Thwaites and his wife Melanie Eagle. At the event Kushil signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Foundation of Goodness and the Melbourne based HELP Sri Lanka, and received generous donations from Professional Investment Services, the Dandenong East Chapter of Rotary, Mr. Bob Bairstow, and Esther Hannibelsz in memory of her late husband. The donations will help fund the Women’s Enterprise Centre at the Centre of Excellence, and a children’s play park.

Knox Restuarant owners and long time FoG supporters David and Cathy Cruse made the event possible by providing a banquet for nearly 150 attendees free of charge. David has made numerous contributions to FoG - from building houses to sponsorships of students, medical support, development of cricket facilities and other kind deeds - in a very low profile manner

FoG’s first AYAD Jillian Ray also attended the function and summed up her affection for Sri Lankans and the Seenigama region in an address to the attendees, commenting that:

‘I think I was the luckiest girl in the word to get the Youth Ambassador position with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka. It was definitely the best place for me to be at that time. I have been missing Sri Lanka so much…I am sure I will visit again sometime soon.’

Kushil also took the opportunity to join Victorian Premier Steve Bracks at the men’s final of the Australian Open tennis championship. Kushil met Mr Bracks through the Victoria Gardens Housing Project, which will see 84 tsunami affected families from the Seenigama region receive brand new homes build with Victorian Government funding.

‘I was lucky enough to enjoy haute cuisine dinner and fourth row seats in the Center Court of the Rod Laver Arena – a once in a life time opportunity for a village boy like me’, he says with a laugh.

Currently under constructions, application of high Australian Standards looks set to make the Victoria Gardens one of the best post-tsunami housing projects in the region.

Kushil also held discussions with institutions such as RMIT University and the Architect’s Association to outline development processes which aim to create a rural community model that can be replicated throughout developing nations.

While the visit was brief, Kushil was delighted to have met so many of the donors across country, saying:

‘The generosity displayed by Australians at a critical time of need was extremely important, and on behalf of the Foundation I am glad to have the chance to express my deepest gratitude. This spirit of giving has enriched our rural communities so that they may experience greater well being and success.

‘I think that it is fair to say Australia is one of our major partners and I hope that our relationship continues to flourish in the future.’

All pictures (except Victoria Gardens) courtesy of Johann D Jayasinha of Sports N News. Visit the Sports N News website











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