Dilmah Family Helps Sri Lankans In Need
The family behind Dilmah tea has spent more than $27 million on the first stage of a complex in Sri Lanka that will care for abused women, differently abled children and marginalized children from urban slums in Sri Lanka.
The first phase of the MJF Centre, has been opened by Merrill J. Fernando, Founder of Dilmah and Settlor of the MJF Charitable Foundation, at Moratuwa, a large and heavily populated seaside town close to Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo.
The centre joins a large group of facilities and individual programmes run by the MJF Foundation in Sri Lanka that help fulfil Merrill J Fernando’s pledge to share the success of Dilmah Tea with those less privileged by making his “business a matter of human service”.
The MJF Centre will eventually house four charitable projects. The first, the Centre for Women, has been established in partnership with the Diri Piyasa Trust Fund to offer a much needed residential care facility for abused women.
The centre will provide free legal, medical, law enforcement and counselling services to women and their families who are victims of violence. It will provide for their rehabilitation and also perform a wider role in creating awareness among families and communities on the extent of violence and its impact on women and their families.
At the Centre Diri Piyasa will undertake advocacy on violence against women at all levels, train counsellors, provide accommodation, meals, rehabilitation and vocational training facilities and meditation to destitute women subjected to violence.
Accepting the keys to the Centre for Women, Diri Piyasa Trustee Kshanika Weeratung said: “At a time when human dignity and life have become disposable commodities, and that the person, the wealth and the power have become the guiding light of society, we salute the MJF Foundation and especially Merrill J. Fernando for incorporating into his business the concept of spirituality, which is taught to us in all religions, where we all strive to bring joy where there is sadness, hope for despair and we realize that it is in giving that we receive.
“My deepest gratitude to Mr Merrill Fernando again - for the patience and understanding he showed me from the very first day when I spoke to him about this project - and to all the staff of Dilmah.”
Work has now begun on the second and third stages: two centres for differently abled children, including Down syndrome and physically disabled children. Once complete, more than 100 children will enjoy specialized therapy, care and education at the Centres for Children.
The fourth stage of the project is MJF Kids - a replica of the highly successful MJF Kids programme that already assist over 120 children from deprived neighbourhoods in the suburbs of Colombo. The Moratuwa MJF Kids programme will focus on rehabilitation of vulnerable ‘street children’ by assisting them to excel in their education and in nurturing creativity.
Dilmah Tea and its associate companies contribute a minimum of 10% of their profits to supplement the contribution that Merrill and his sons make to the foundation. The MJF Foundation designs and implements over 100 different projects each year with the objective of empowering marginalized and underprivileged people in the community in a sustainable and dignified manner. The Foundation’s Small Entrepreneur Programme has been hailed as a model for practical and respectful assistance to the poorest.
Other areas in which the Foundation is active include education, nutrition and healthcare, care for the elderly, rehabilitation of tsunami affected communities, empowerment of the differently abled and emergency assistance to marginalized communities.