Next to Compassion, Poverty Stands No Chance
The MJF Charitable Foundation - Changing Lives
We are different but we are able – Story of Nipuna
For both Nipuna Fernando (aged 21) and Gayeshan Lakshitha (aged 24) doing their ‘shift’ at the MJF Centre’s Swashakthi bakery would be the highlight of the day.
Brimming with excitement, they put on their neatly pressed black aprons; tell everyone around them, with a sense of pride, that they will soon be “going for their shift” at the bakery.
Nipuna and Gayeshan – participants of MJFCF’s Rainbow Centre initiative, a programme that provides holistic development for children with special needs- have recently been recruited at the MJF Centre’s Swashakthi bakery which was set up with the primary objective to provide sustainable and dignified empowerment, especially for the mothers of MJF Kids, and participants of various other programmes. Nipuna and Gayeshan being put in charge of a half day shift at the bakery marks a milestone development for MJF Centre in Moratuwa as the enthusiasm with which these two kids engage in the tasks allotted to them is indicative of their desire to be integrated in to mainstream society as productive individuals.
Gayeshan, despite his Cerebral Palsy condition, is extremely hardworking although his physical impairment restricts him to a certain degree. He executes the daily tasks at the bakery with much vigour. He greets those who walk into the bakery with a beautiful smile; runs to them with the ketch up bottle or the order they placed. Gayeshan is unable to get into a long conversation with the customers he serves, but shows his affectionate nature often with a smile. His colleague Nipuna who is more articulated despite being a Downs Syndrome child, says he finds the work at the bakery extremely fascinating. Explaining his daily routine Nipuna says, “I wake up around 7 am. every day and soon after I finish my morning exercises, I start getting ready because I have to come to the bakery to do the morning shift. Around 8.30, I come here. Then I go to the kitchen to make buns, patties and submarines. I also do various other activities at the classes here until my morning shift starts. My job is to serve the customers who come to the bakery. I am so happy I have a job and I earn money now. When I leave home every morning, my neighbours know that I am going for a job. It makes me happy when they ask me what I do. I must thank Dilhan Sir for giving me this job. All I want is to wear a tie and go to work someday,” says Nipuna who has even promised to give his friends at the MJF Centre his first salary treat. Both Gayeshan and Nipuna epitomize what differently abled can achieve when they are given the much needed opportunity and space; and that is the difference your cup of Dilmah tries to make.