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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

A ten-year-old’s wish to build a tsunami ‘relief village’

© Kathleen Tranquillo
Dillon Tranquillo, ten, devised a million-dollar project to build a ‘relief village’ in Sri Lanka for victims of the tsunami.

By Jihun Sohn

ABINGTON, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 19 July 2005 – If he had a million dollars, ten-year-old Dillon Tranquillo says he would build a ‘relief village’ in Sri Lanka for the tsunami victims, with housing and medical facilities for all.

At an age when most boys might dream about building mansions or travelling around the world with that much money, Dillon is more concerned about helping people who can’t help themselves.    

Dillon spent much of the last school year working on a project on how best to spend a hypothetical million dollars. As a fourth grader, he took on a fifth grader’s project, learning how to use Microsoft Excel and Power Point technologies. Dillon was already a year ahead of his peers in math and took a class at camp on designing web sites. His idea of building a relief village came from reading tsunami-related articles in a magazine.

“I think it’s important because it’s helping the people who lost everything they had, while other people have tons of things. And if you had a million dollars, it would be good to spend it on helping people,” he says.
The young innovator who aspires to become a basketball player when he grows up - went to great lengths to gather information on the cost of basic needs, ranging from housing to fishing supplies in Sri Lanka. Much of the information was obtained from magazines and the Internet, as well as with the help of UNICEF. Dillon then allocated his million dollars to eight main sectors: housing, fishing supplies, food, clothing, education, water, transportation, and services. Housing received the most, with 45 per cent of the total budget.

Dillon says it was interesting to learn that houses in Sri Lanka only cost around $2,500, or one per cent of the average cost in the US. He adds that a million dollars, “is enough for a basic life but not enough for them to have fun most of the time.”

When asked what he would do if he had not just one, but ten million dollars, Dillon says, “I would try to make homes for more people and maybe give them more supplies and food so they could live longer and have a chance to make a living faster.”

Dillon’s mother describes her son as being smart, observant, and always caring.

“He’s just a really sweet child and he really does care about things and he will get emotionally upset about things, like if an animal is hurt or if he finds out that something is wrong in the world. I think it really does affect him,” says Kathleen Tranquillo.

In June, Dillon’s Power Point presentation was a big hit at school, enough to draw the attention of the school’s curriculum specialist. Together, they plan to organize a fund raiser in the next school year - using his model as a guide - to show people that anyone can make a difference in this world.



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