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Picture book tells magics of “City Rising from the Ocean” in Sri Lanka

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by Tang Lu and Jamila Najmuddin

Sanjeewa Alwis, an electrical and mechanical engineer with the China-funded Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka, is always excited about the project he gets involved in.

He has two daughters, Pekshi Advini and Methni Achinthi, who are equally excited about the project that their father is building in Colombo – a grand, ultra-modern business and entertainment center which is now rising from the ocean like a dream come true.

“How do you build it? Is it like building sand castles we love to build on the beach?” Advini and Methni would often ask their father.

To answer such questions from many Sri Lankan children, the Port City Colombo recently produced a picture book entitled “City Rising from the Ocean” to mark the 7th anniversary of the launch of the project.

The narration of the Port City story is by Sanjeewa who explains his work to his beloved daughters.

Sanjeewa Alwis, an electrical and mechanical engineer with the China-funded Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka is appearing in the picture book about the development of Port City. (Xinhua)

Twenty years back, Sanjeewa had studied electrical engineering and automation for six years at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. After graduation, he lived and worked in the Middle East for a long time.

A few years ago, when he learned that Sri Lanka and China were jointly building the Port City Colombo, he decided to return to his homeland and work on the spectacular project.

In 2016, Sanjeewa and his family moved back to Sri Lanka. Soon after, he joined the Port City team. “I was finally able to use the knowledge I learned in China to work in my hometown,” he said.

This is a page from a picture book for Sri Lankan children produced by China-funded Colombo Port City to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the project. (Xinhua)

Launched in September 2014, the Port City Colombo is a cooperative project between Sri Lanka and China. It plans to reclaim 269 hectares of land from the Indian Ocean to build a brand-new central business district (CBD) integrating finance, tourism, logistics, and information technology in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

Previously, many people in Sri Lanka did not have a full understanding of the significance of the project. “One of my responsibilities was to explain its significance to local officials so that the infrastructure in the Port City could be developed as quickly as possible,” said Sanjeewa.

In January 2019, the Port City project reached a milestone with the reclamation of 269 hectares from the ocean. “At that moment everyone in Port City was thrilled,” Sanjeewa said excitedly.

This is a page from a picture book for Sri Lankan children produced by China-funded Colombo Port City to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the project. (Xinhua)

Believing that the Port City is an unprecedented project in Sri Lanka’s history, he said “What we are doing now will be a sample of Sri Lanka in the future.”

On the completion of the reclamation project, scenic places and facilities such as green parks, artificial beaches, yacht piers, golf courses will come up.

“With increasing publicity being given to the Port City in the local media, people in Sri Lanka are becoming more aware of the project and are looking forward to enjoying the benefits and facilities there,” Sanjeewa said.

He and his daughters are proud that they are appearing in the picture book, however, Sanjeewa regretted that neither of his daughters visited the Port City in person.

This is a page from a picture book for Sri Lankan children produced by China-funded Colombo Port City to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the project. (Xinhua)

“The book will give information to children on how the Port City is being built and what it will look like in the future. It is a good way of passing knowledge to the younger generation,” Sanjeewa said.

Methni, a student of grade 11, said what she loves most in the book is the description of playing with the sand and building a sand castle on the beach.

“It could be the same as putting up buildings in the Port City. After reading this book, we will look forward to living and working in the Port City and enjoying the facilities there,” said the girl.

“Most of my classmates know my father works in the Port City and they ask about his work. We will share the book with our classmates so that they can get a good idea of how the city is being built,” added Advini, who is one year older than Methni.

Chairman of the National Library of Sri Lanka, Sonala Gunawardana introduces the picture book” City Rising from the Ocean” at the online launch ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sept. 17, 2021. (Xinhua)

At the online launch ceremony of the book earlier this month, Chairman of the National Library of Sri Lanka, Sonala Gunawardana, said that it is a story narrated through a children’s view in which the Port City is coming to life.

This is the most promising project for our country and the beneficiaries are none other than our children and future generations, Gunawardana added.

“Rising from the Ocean is a real story that our children can truly experience,” said Dinesh Kulathunga, President of the Sri Lanka Board on Books for Young People.

COLOMBO, Sept. 28 (Xinhua)

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