The MJF Foundation Small Entrepreneur Programme at AIDEX
Subani Udeshika is a regular participant at AIDEX who has won the overall women’s title several times. She is a national Paralympic athlete and has participated in the Asian Paralympic Games 2006 and at the Asian Youth Paralympic Games in 2009 in Japan where she was placed 2nd in the 200m event. Subani was born without one leg but has not let her disability mar her athletic ambitions or her zest for life. She got involved in sports when she was 7 years old and used to practice in the grounds near her home. Now she trains with a coach when she has the time, and is currently following the Graphics Designing Course at the Curtiss Design Centre at the MJF Centre for Empowerment in Moratuwa. She hopes to go further in this field while maintaining her athletic ambitions.
The CFINS provides prosthetics to underprivileged limb users throughout Sri Lanka and celebrated 180 years in 2011. The MJF Charitable Foundation, through the CFINS Self Employment Project has supported differently able persons with grants for education and livelihood on four previous occasions. This year the Foundation handed out 11 grants to selected persons to help them set up and further small scale businesses. The grants included sewing machines, welding equipment and other such items. The awards were handed out by Malik, elder son of Dilmah Founder and MJF Foundation Settlor, Merrill J. Fernando.
Sandya – Seamstress
Sandya is a 38 year old widowed mother of three. She lost both her legs due to diabetic related complications when she was 29 years old. Prior to her disability she was a garment factory worker. With the support of the CFINS she was able to start a sewing business in 2008. Now with the second sewing machine provided by the MJF Foundation, she plans on expanding her business to support her 3 children. Her eldest son Lahiru is 15 years old and he will be helping her with the sewing as he enjoys sewing pillowcases and such items. He stated, “I want to study and reach a high level in life, and serve my country”.
Chandrakumar – Street Vendor
Chandrakumar is a 35 year old street vendor who lost his leg due to a train accident 3 years ago. Before his accident he was a tree cutter and used to engage in manual labor. Now with the help of his wife Ambiga he makes and sells food items from a cart. The MJF Foundation provided Chandrakumar with a much needed night light. Chandrakumar and Ambiga hope to set up a small shop and provide their two children with a better future. The eldest daughter, Prasadinie, hopes to become a nurse when she grows up and help take care of her father.
Premaratne – Agriculture
Premaratne is a 48 year who runs a home garden and rears exotic birds. He lost his leg due to an accident involving a tree trunk 18 years ago when he used to cut trees. Now he works in agriculture where he grows vegetables and also engages in carpentry and rearing exotic birds. He sells these items from his home and tries to make ends meet in order to support his family. Premaratne has been a regular participant at the AIDEX sports day and takes part in field and track events. He stated, “I want to improve my income and ensure my 16 year old son has a good future. There is satisfaction in engaging in the work I do where I can actually see the fruits of my labour”.
Business is a matter of human service.