Corner of Sri Lanka That Will Be Forever Hampton; LONDON SUBURB'S RESIDENTS RAISE CASH TO BUILD VILLAGE IN TSUNAMI-WRECKED AREA

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB SINGH

THOUSANDS of people were killed and hundreds of thousands more made homeless when the tsunami hit the east coast of Sri Lanka on Boxing Day last year.

Now residents of a London suburb are paying to rebuild a village from scratch. Some have already visited the stricken area to lay the first paving stone of the [pounds sterling]200,000 village, which will be named after their own town - Hampton.

The entrance to the village will resemble the front of Hampton Court Palace and the settlement will have a 40ft monument bearing the names of all 126 British victims of the disaster.

The project was founded by Dr Upali Wickrama-Sekera, who had been visiting family in Sri Lanka just before the wave killed 273,000 people.

Born in Sri Lanka but resident in England for 40 years, Dr Wickrama-Sekera had been visiting family in the city of Galle, one of the worst hit parts of the country. He left the day before the disaster and his two brothers escaped because they, too, went to the airport.

Almost 50,000 people were left homeless in and around Galle. After sending medical aid, Dr Wickrama-Sekera, a 64-year-old former business consultant, enlisted friends and family to help with the village project. So far, 116 individuals, schools, businesses and other groups in Hampton have contributed. …