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Empower Culinary & Hospitality School receives prestigious WorldChefs Certification

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Produces two graduates with distinction passes

dilmah

The Empower Culinary & Hospitality School, Sri Lanka's premier culinary and hospitality facility, which creates new avenues for underprivileged and marginalised youth with empowerment through education in the gastronomy and hospitality industry of Sri Lanka was granted World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) recognition recently. WACS is a World Chefs body consisting of 10 million chefs and the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School is the only culinary training institute in Sri Lanka to hold this prestigious title.

The Empower Culinary & Hospitality School is an outcome of the philosophy of MJF Foundation Settlor Merrill J. Fernando that, business is a matter of human service. Founded on the principle that every individual has the ability to succeed and the right to that opportunity, the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando to offer the underprivileged an opportunity to rise above their circumstances.

The WACS recognition comes in the wake of the graduation of its inaugural batch. The announcement was made by WACS Education Director, John Clancy during the gala graduation night, held on February 7, 2017 at the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School in the presence of 140 School Of Tea participants who have flown down to Sri Lanka from different parts of the world.
During the event, John Clancy acknowledged that Empower Culinary & Hospitality School is an institute having a high standard of training and skills development to continue professional development. The citation recognises the development and delivery of the culinary training programme, to be on par with global standards.

"When WorldChefs were invited to assess the programme, we were absolutely delighted and honoured to do so and we spent some time going through the programme. The learning material that is there is just absolutely top class. The facilities are just exceptional; right down to the whole learning environment, the facilities upstairs for students where they can study on computers. There's an array of cookery books. It's still building and I really do believe that it is going to be an amazing success story. The word, 'empower' says so much," he emphasized.

Managed by an eminent team of Governors - Bernd Uber, Peter Kuruvita, Rohan Fernandopulle and Dilhan C Fernando, the school uses an intensive training method, to provide selected students -those with physical disabilities and youth from rural communities and the plantation sector in Sri Lanka with comprehensive knowledge and international perspectives on cuisine and hospitality. The four month culinary course offered by the school, totally free of charge, is equal to the best in the world with visiting international professionals supplementing the Sri Lankan faculty. Culinary empowerment spans the fundamentals of nutrition through personal discipline, English, cooking skills, information technology and menu planning.

Built to the standards of a commercialized kitchen, the culinary unit is equipped with the latest technology and kitchenware needed to train chefs in all areas, such as hot and cold cooking and baking. Not forgetting those that maybe wheelchair bound, it also includes a station which is specifically designed to allow their ease-of-access.

Elaborating on the philosophy behind the initiative, Merrill J Fernando said that, although Dilmah Tea is known worldwide for its quality, the philosophy that is driving Dilmah Single Origin Tea is little known.

"Dilmah is not just the best cup of tea but it is a cup that cheers the poor and the needy. I have made the poor look to Dilmah for various kinds of relief and support and the wealth I have acquired is going back to the poor. At the MJF Charitable Foundation, we have a variety of activities bringing hope and sunshine to the poor and the disabled. The school is another source of providing hope and happiness to the poor and the disabled. About 90% of the children who passed out came from our estates; children of tea pickers never had a hope of achieving such a position in life," he explained.

While acknowledging that WACS recognition is a very strong encouragement and validation, the Trustee of the MJF Charitable Foundation Dilhan C. Fernando spoke about the tangible difference the culinary course has brought about in the lives of the beneficiaries.

"Six months ago, these chefs knew nothing about cooking. We designed a four month boot camp method with the involvement of WACS, of committed people like Bernd Uber with input from Peter Kuruvita, from Rohan Fernandopulle, with the involvement of our chefs like Rajiv. What we did was then transform that a little more by insisting that these people, whilst they get completely free training, that we require of them their commitment. They start the day with physical exercise; they go on to learn English; they go on to learn computers. They are stretched beyond what they believe to be their capabilities. We extract, in those 4 months, their true ability, that is their true potential which each of has in whatever circumstance and then we are able to take them forward," he said.
According to Dilhan C. Fernando, part of the course is three months apprenticeship. "If somebody else does not take them we take them into the leisure division which my brother runs. So they have the wonderful privilege of saying they have come from the plantations and they are choosing, from the finest of the 5 star properties of Sri Lanka, which one they will join. That shows the difference that knowledge can offer. How knowledge can take you from a completely underprivileged environment into something that is transformational," he added.

About Dilmah

Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, today the world's most experienced teamaker, has championed quality, authenticity and variety in tea. Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea in 1988 when the family company went against industry trends to declare its commitment to authenticity. Garden fresh, unblended tea is a hallmark of Dilmah and offers a unique taste of unblended Ceylon tea packed at source - where it is grown.

Dilmah takes the lead in bringing innovation to a global tea category that has suffered decline as a result of commoditisation. Signature events such as the Chefs & the Teamaker and Real High Tea are innovations that seek to educate and inspire hospitality professionals to offer their guests a completely new tea experience
The Dilmah School of Tea seeks to inspire passion in tea through knowledge of the artisanal aspects of tea amongst hospitality professionals, tea aficionados and consumers. The emphasis is on the importance of Real Tea and the versatility of this natural herb in Tea Gastronomy, food pairing and Tea Mixology.

Dilmah is Ethical Tea, in that all packaging profits are retained in Sri Lanka and fund the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. We believe that Business is a Matter of Human Service.

http://www.dilmahtea.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dilmah
https://www.instagram.com/dilmahceylontea/
https://twitter.com/dilmah/
www.schooloftea.org
http://realhightea.dilmahtea.com/

Merrill J. Fernando

As a very young man, he saw firsthand, how producers and their workers were exploited. He was inspired to believe that, one day he will have his own brand, which would be of finest Single Origin tea, in 100% Pure Ceylon Tea and share his profits with the poor. He laughed at himself of his impossible dream. From then until now, tea has become a cheap commodity, sold by heavily advertised and promoted brand names by trading companies. Consumers have to pay for brand names and not for quality.

Thirty four years after his impossible dream, he decided to launch his own brand. In his first press interview in Australia prior to the launch, he said, today, tea is a cheap commodity, I will bring integrity back to tea, by naming my brand "DILMAH", after my two children- Dilhan and Malik, in Single Origin tea, as opposed to multi origin commoditized tea; the finest on the market and sharing profits with the poor and the disabled.

Merrill launched, garden fresh, unblended, Single Origin Pure Ceylon tea, grown and packed at source, fully value added and branded. In doing so, he retained all the profits from branding and marketing, in his country. Until then, tea producers and workers watched in pain and anger, their raw sweat and toil enriching traders in rich nations, while they remained poor. In carrying out the full process of value addition and branding, right where tea is grown, every packet of Dilmah tea became the world's first ethically produced tea and it remains so, even today.
Dilmah is globally renowned for the finest quality tea and for its philosophy of caring and sharing. The brand was established on Merrill's unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service, a pledge that is fulfilled through MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

MJF Charitable Foundation

The MJF Charitable Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, to fulfill his commitment to make his family business a matter of human service. MJF Charitable Foundation, changes over 10,000 thousand lives each year. All companies in the MJF Group, contribute 10% of their profits before tax, to the Foundation. Merrill does not accept donations and believes charity must be forthcoming strictly, from his personal resources.

www.mjffoundation.org
https://www.facebook.com/MJFCF
https://www.instagram.com/mjffoundation/

Click here to download images

Empower Culinary & Hospitality School’s inaugural graduates felicitated in international event

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dilmah
The Empower Culinary & Hospitality School, Sri Lanka's premier culinary and hospitality facility with World Association of Chefs' Societies (WACS) recognition, is an outcome of the philosophy of MJF Foundation Settlor Merrill J. Fernando that, business is a matter of human service. Founded on the principle that every individual has the ability to succeed and the right to that opportunity, the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando to offer the underprivileged an opportunity to rise above their circumstances. The school uses an intensive training method, to provide selected students with comprehensive knowledge and international perspectives on cuisine and hospitality. The four month culinary course offered by the school is equal to the best in the world with visiting international professionals supplementing the Sri Lankan faculty. Culinary Empowerment spans the fundamentals of nutrition through personal discipline, English, cooking skills, information technology and menu planning. Students are selected from the applicants based on their enthusiasm for knowledge, their commitment to hard work and their desire to succeed as chefs.

The school felicitated its inaugural batch consisting 13 young chefs at a gala graduation night held on February 7 at the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School premises. Witnessing this milestone in their lives were Governors of the School &#45 Bernd Uber, Peter Kuruvita, Rohan Fernandopulle, the Education Director World Association of Chef’s Societies (WACS) John Clancy, 140 odd participants who have flown down to Sri Lanka from different parts of the world to attend the Dilmah School of Tea 2017, Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, his two sons Dilhan C. Fernando and Malik J. Fernando and the parents of the graduating batch.

The event had two special awards being presented to R. Vijeyakumara and K. Danushan for their excellent performance at the final evaluation.

dilmah

Nineteen year old R. Vijeyakumara from Kahawatte plantation was chasing a dream from the day he enrolled for culinary training. His dream was to be like Celebrity Chef, Peter Kuruvita someday. What inspired this young boy was a personal message from Peter Kuruvita featured in the form of a short video clip at the introductory session. Four months after, at the end of the culinary training, this aspiring chef graduated from the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School, on February 7 with a distinction pass.

Walking up to the stage, attired in a chef's jacket to receive his special award, made him feel that he has taken another step towards achieving his 'dream,' Vijeyakumara says.

The young graduate K. Danushan's thoughts reflect the positive influence the culinary school has on the lives of underprivileged youth.

"Until I came here, I never knew that there are this many opportunities in the culinary filed. I studied up to Grade 11. Although I managed to pass my G.C.E O/Ls, it was not with good results. So I wanted to get into vocational training. Now I know that, being a chef is an exciting career. During the training here, I got to see the standards of the international chefs who trained us. It was motivating to see how far they have gone in life in this industry. My ambition is to become an executive chef and work abroad. I felt so proud when I heard my name announced as a recipient of a special award," says Danushan adding that his parents getting to witness this special moment was important to him as it was for the first time that they got to see him achieving something.

When the first batch of culinary students first joined the culinary school, they were without any exposure or knowledge in the field of culinary art. After months of hands on training at the Centre's state of the art training facility, working with leading chefs from across the world, the students have gained an international perspective on cuisine and hospitality. Working with the international chefs and to have met their expectations, turned out to be a novel experience for the culinary batch. Notably, the students also undertook the challenge to prepare a three course menu for the guests attending the graduation night&#45 a menu which John Clancy acknowledged to be "absolutely exceptional."

These young chefs who are stepping out of the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School as graduates will be further assisted to progress in their culinary journey with opportunities to join an establishment to follow internships within MJF Charitable Foundation, Dilmah or hotels, restaurants and other hospitality operators.

dilmah

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando who addressed the gathering said, "Dilmah Tea is known worldwide for its quality. That's not my achievement of Ceylon Tea. What is little known is the philosophy that is driving Dilmah Tea. At the MJF Charitable Foundation, we have a variety of activities bringing hope to poor and the underprivileged. About two years ago we set up the Culinary School with the idea to provide hospitality training. The school is another source of providing hope and happiness to the underprivileged. About 90% of the students who passed out came from our estates. Children of tea pickers; they never had a hope of achieving such a position in life."

The Governor Rohan Fernandopulle who spoke at the event said; "Today we celebrate the passing out of a very special group of students and champion their possibilities and capabilities. I am so proud and happy to be a part of something that has always been so close to my heart. First batch of students who interned at Waters Edge worked side by side with the chefs to create dishes that can be placed at any great restaurant in Sri Lanka. I was with these kids and I was amazed to see the creativity and ability of some of these young kids. I am sure some of them will end up as executive chefs in future. I am immensely proud to have contributed in my own small way to the success of this programme."

About Dilmah

Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, today the world's most experienced teamaker, has championed quality, authenticity and variety in tea. Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea in 1988 when the family company went against industry trends to declare its commitment to authenticity. Garden fresh, unblended tea is a hallmark of Dilmah and offers a unique taste of unblended Ceylon tea packed at source &#45 where it is grown.

Dilmah takes the lead in bringing innovation to a global tea category that has suffered decline as a result of commoditisation. Signature events such as the Chefs & the Teamaker and Real High Tea are innovations that seek to educate and inspire hospitality professionals to offer their guests a completely new tea experience

The Dilmah School of Tea seeks to inspire passion in tea through knowledge of the artisanal aspects of tea amongst hospitality professionals, tea aficionados and consumers. The emphasis is on the importance of Real Tea and the versatility of this natural herb in Tea Gastronomy, food pairing and Tea Mixology.

Dilmah is Ethical Tea, in that all packaging profits are retained in Sri Lanka and fund the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. We believe that Business is a Matter of Human Service.

http://www.dilmahtea.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dilmah
https://www.instagram.com/dilmahceylontea/
https://twitter.com/dilmah/
www.schooloftea.org
http://realhightea.dilmahtea.com/

Merrill J. Fernando

As a very young man, he saw firsthand, how producers and their workers were exploited. He was inspired to believe that, one day he will have his own brand, which would be of finest Single Origin tea, in 100% Pure Ceylon Tea and share his profits with the poor. He laughed at himself of his impossible dream. From then until now, tea has become a cheap commodity, sold by heavily advertised and promoted brand names by trading companies. Consumers have to pay for brand names and not for quality.

Thirty four years after his impossible dream, he decided to launch his own brand. In his first press interview in Australia prior to the launch, he said, today, tea is a cheap commodity, I will bring integrity back to tea, by naming my brand "DILMAH", after my two children&#45 Dilhan and Malik, in Single Origin tea, as opposed to multi origin commoditized tea; the finest on the market and sharing profits with the poor and the disabled.

Merrill launched, garden fresh, unblended, Single Origin Pure Ceylon tea, grown and packed at source, fully value added and branded. In doing so, he retained all the profits from branding and marketing, in his country. Until then, tea producers and workers watched in pain and anger, their raw sweat and toil enriching traders in rich nations, while they remained poor. In carrying out the full process of value addition and branding, right where tea is grown, every packet of Dilmah tea became the world's first ethically produced tea and it remains so, even today.

Dilmah is globally renowned for the finest quality tea and for its philosophy of caring and sharing. The brand was established on Merrill's unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service, a pledge that is fulfilled through MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

MJF Charitable Foundation

The MJF Charitable Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, to fulfill his commitment to make his family business a matter of human service. MJF Charitable Foundation, changes over 10,000 thousand lives each year. All companies in the MJF Group, contribute 10% of their profits before tax, to the Foundation. Merrill does not accept donations and believes charity must be forthcoming strictly, from his personal resources.

www.mjffoundation.org
https://www.facebook.com/MJFCF
https://www.instagram.com/mjffoundation/

Click here to download images

The MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment model replicated in Sri Lanka’s East

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dilmah

Creating a safe haven for the differently abled, marginalized youth and war widows in the region.

On February 3, 2017, the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF) established in fulfillment of its Founder's philosophy of making business a matter of human service, expanded its humanitarian activities in the eastern region of Sri Lanka with the laying of the foundation stone for the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment in Kiran, Batticaloa.

A replication of its Centre at Moratuwa which integrates the principles of empowerment and dignity, the Centre in Kiran has the broader vision to facilitate a reawakening in the region, whilst transforming the lives of the displaced children, young adults and their parents whose wellbeing was compromised due to the ethnic conflict. According to information by the area's Divisional Secretariat, there are 200,000 unemployed individuals, 29,000 widows and 600 differently abled in the region. Hence the MJF Centre in Kiran, which is to be open in stages commencing 2018, has the objective to assist these underprivileged groups through material, mentorship, intellectual and practical guidelines.

Spread across 118,000 square feet, the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment in Kiran consists of a Rainbow Centre for Special Needs Kids, the MJF Kids Centre, a vocational training unit, dormitory facilities and library.

The Rainbow Centre, a fully functional facility equipped with latest devices for therapy, managed and run by qualified professionals in the field, has the objective to holistically develop the children with special needs through education and therapy. Early interventions and personalised services for those with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism and other developmental disorders would bring about a tangible difference in the lives of these special needs individuals once the facility is established.

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Similar to the way the MJF Kids programmes in Moratuwa and Peliyagoda effected a transformation in the lives of some 1000 kids over a period of a decade, since its inception, the MJF Kids model that would be replicated at the Centre under construction in Kiran, has the objective to bring quality education for children and youth from low income families in the region to enable them overcome the challenges they face due to extreme poverty, lack of opportunities and guidance. The skills development, leadership training and vocational training covering a broad spectrum such as carpentry, masonry, IT, graphics art and crafts will expose the underprivileged youth in the region to a life of possibility by tapping into their inherent abilities requiring only means of nurturing. Similarly, the youth in the region will also be given the opportunity for empowerment in the field of gastronomy and hospitality industry through the Empower Culinary & Hospitality School - a premier culinary training facility, under MJFCF which even carries the World Association of Chefs' Societies (WACS) recognition as a centre of excellence for professional training. The success of this culinary education programme, which produced its initial batch of graduates with a global perspective on cuisine and hospitality, compelled the MJFCF to replicate this model at its Centre in Kiran so as to create new avenues for marginalised youth in the region.

The beneficiaries of the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment in Kiran will also include the mothers of the programme participants and underprivileged females who will be assisted to reach entrepreneurships through Women's Development Programme activities such as sewing, cookery, home gardening arts and crafts.

Additionally, Dilmah Conservation will replicate its successful organic model garden established at the Moratuwa Centre - Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Center at the MJF Centre premises in Kiran as a means of promoting human nutrition, reducing the cost of living and enhancing life through contact with nature. A place for research and development on sustainable agricultural methods and appropriate urban agriculture, the model garden in Kiran will have a few additions such as a cashew nursery, cashew processing centre, a market place for the beneficiaries to sell their products and waste management units with the objective to promote sustainable living amongst the occupants in the region.

Speaking at the inauguration, Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando elaborated on the vision behind the MJFCF led initiative in the eastern region of Sri Lanka - what is by far the single largest operation carried out.

dilmah

"We in the south suffered somewhat from the war; you are still suffering. In my association of Thoppigala events and the previous events, I watched and witnessed a level of poverty, a level of shock amongst children and parents that I never want to see again. That is why every little project we want to carry out in the Eastern Province are being supported by my children and the Trustees. This MJF Centre, bigger than our Moratuwa Centre, will change the lives of the people in this region, " said Merrill J. Fernando.

"When I look back on my life, I came from an ordinary middle class home. Now I am in a different position. The Bible says the charity you do or the help you extend to the community is lending to God and God repays you in abundance. That abundance I receive in absolute abundance, and I share it with you in activities like this, " he added.

Commander of the Security Forces - East, Gen. Dharshana Hettiarachchi speaking at the event said; "Today will be a historical day for the Eastern Province. The initiative taken by the Dilmah will have a great impact on the upliftment of the living standards of the people in Eastern Province. Thirty year long war had a great impact on the property and the progress of region. People in the South always thought that they went through lot of hardships due to the war but when you come to East and the North you will see what a hardship, what a difficult period that they have gone through and still they are going through. The Government alone will not be able to develop this country unless the private sector align with the Government. So the initiative by DC under the abled guidance by the Dilmah Chairman is really great. "

Read more on Integiritea




About Dilmah

Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, founded by Merrill J. Fernando, today the world's most experienced teamaker, has championed quality, authenticity and variety in tea. Dilmah pioneered the concept of Single Origin Tea in 1988 when the family company went against industry trends to declare its commitment to authenticity. Garden fresh, unblended tea is a hallmark of Dilmah and offers a unique taste of unblended Ceylon tea packed at source - where it is grown.

Dilmah takes the lead in bringing innovation to a global tea category that has suffered decline as a result of commoditisation. Signature events such as the Chefs & the Teamaker and Real High Tea are innovations that seek to educate and inspire hospitality professionals to offer their guests a completely new tea experience. The events foster greater respect for this healthy, natural and versatile beverage.

The Dilmah School of Tea seeks to inspire passion in tea through knowledge of the artisanal aspects of tea amongst hospitality professionals, tea aficionados and consumers. The emphasis is on the importance of Real Tea and the versatility of this natural herb in Tea Gastronomy, food pairing and Tea Mixology.

Dilmah is Ethical Tea, in that all packaging profits are retained in Sri Lanka and fund the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. We believe that Business is a Matter of Human Service.

http://www.dilmahtea.com/
https://www.facebook.com/dilmah
https://www.instagram.com/dilmahceylontea/
https://twitter.com/dilmah/
www.schooloftea.org
http://realhightea.dilmahtea.com/

Merrill J. Fernando

As a very young man, he saw firsthand, how producers and their workers were exploited. He was inspired to believe that, one day he will have his own brand, which would be of finest Single Origin tea, in 100% Pure Ceylon Tea and share his profits with the poor. He laughed at himself of his impossible dream. From then until now, tea has become a cheap commodity, sold by heavily advertised and promoted brand names by trading companies. Consumers have to pay for brand names and not for quality.

Thirty four years after his impossible dream, he decided to launch his own brand. In his first press interview in Australia prior to the launch, he said, today, tea is a cheap commodity, I will bring integrity back to tea, by naming my brand "DILMAH", after my two children - Dilhan and Malik, in Single Origin tea, as opposed to multi origin commoditized tea; the finest on the market and sharing profits with the poor and the disabled.

Merrill launched, garden fresh, unblended, Single Origin Pure Ceylon tea, grown and packed at source, fully value added and branded. In doing so, he retained all the profits from branding and marketing, in his country. Until then, tea producers and workers watched in pain and anger, their raw sweat and toil enriching traders in rich nations, while they remained poor. In carrying out the full process of value addition and branding, right where tea is grown, every packet of Dilmah tea became the world's first ethically produced tea and it remains so, even today.

Dilmah is globally renowned for the finest quality tea and for its philosophy of caring and sharing. The brand was established on Merrill's unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service, a pledge that is fulfilled through MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation.

MJF Charitable Foundation

The MJF Charitable Foundation was established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, to fulfill his commitment to make his family business a matter of human service. MJF Charitable Foundation, changes over 10,000 thousand lives each year. All companies in the MJF Group, contribute 10% of their profits before tax, to the Foundation. Merrill does not accept donations and believes charity must be forthcoming strictly, from his personal resources.

www.mjffoundation.org
https://www.facebook.com/MJFCF
https://www.instagram.com/mjffoundation/

Dilmah Conservation

Dilmah Conservation promotes sustainable use of the environment as Merrill believes that every individual and business has an obligation to ensure that a sustainable interaction with the environment is maintained at all times. Through Dilmah Conservation, he pioneered a comprehensive commitment to foster respect for the environment and ensure its protection by encouraging a harmonious coexistence of man and nature. Together with its resource partner IUCN, the world's largest global environmental network, Dilmah is promoting biodiversity, species/habitat protection & awareness of sustainability with special focus on protection of the Asian Elephant.

www.dilmahconservation.org
https://www.facebook.com/DilmahConservation
https://www.instagram.com/dilmahconservation/

President Sirisena inaugurates Dilmah Conservation One Earth, Sri Lanka’s First Urban Arboretum

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one-earth
President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena today inaugurated Dilmah Conservation,s One Earth Arboretum. In the capacity of Minister for the Environment, President Sirisena has been a strong advocate of environmental protection. He was joined by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, who shares the same commitment to environmental stewardship, in declaring open the unique and far reaching project. The One Earth Arboretum is located in Moratuwa, and features over 500 species in a project that engagingly presents the aesthetic and functional value of nature.

one-earth2
The One Earth Arboretum is Sri Lanka,s first Urban Arboretum; it is an urban biodiversity experience that is designed to present the aesthetic, functional and psychological value of nature in an interactive and educational facility. The unique space in Moratuwa, on the outskirts of Colombo, features the natural beauty and provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural benefits in Nature, to express the importance of respectful co-existence amongst humankind and nature. The One Earth Arboretum is established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando for the benefit of present and future generations in fulfilment of his pledge to make his business a matter of human service. It will promote the study and appreciation of Nature and a more enlightened attitude towards forests and biodiversity.

one-earth3
Nature renders benefits that are vital for the existence of humankind and whilst critical to our existence, these ecosystem services are invariably taken for granted and as a result often irrevocably overexploited for commercial gain. They include recycling of nutrients, formation of soil for food production, water purification and flood prevention. Other services including water, genetic resources for medicines, food, minerals, energy and regulating services such as water and air purification, carbon sequestration, climate regulation. Cultural services include recreation, therapy, and scientific knowledge amongst others.

The One Earth Arboretum features over 500 floral species in two ecosystems featuring traditional tank centric agriculture, rain fed chena cultivation, and Sri Lanka agricultural heritage in paddy cultivation. It will explain the nutritional, medicinal, aesthetic, life supporting and other benefits in each of the species whilst showing also how traditional Sri Lankan lifestyles evolved in respectful and mutually beneficial way.

Research confirms that urbanization fosters apathy towards the environment and wildlife that is the result of the disconnect in cities between humans and nature. The implications are alarming, both for human welfare and the consequences of biophobia amongst urban populations. With 55% of the world,s population currently living in cities and that number expected to account for two-thirds of global population by 2050, promotion of biophilia and better understanding of the critical importance of a healthy environment for human life are vital.

A 2010 Harvard Health study discovered that apart from uplifting mood, enhancing Vitamin D and promoting exercise - which is essential for good health - nature supports faster healing, concentration and reduces mortality rates. The study of 100,000 people found that those living amidst greenery had 12% lower mortality compared with others who lived in built up areas. Nearly 30% of the benefit of living around green spaces was linked to improved mental health, measured though lower levels of depression.

Through the One Earth Arboretum, which occupies prime urban land, Dilmah Conservation and its Founder, Merrill J. Fernando hope to express the value of Nature, and thereby promote attitudinal change that will help current and future generations in Sri Lanka protect Nature, adopt sustainable lifestyles and build greener, healthier and more sustainable cities.

At the inauguration of the One earth Arboretum, Merrill J. Fernandoi will present His Excellency the President the first copy of ,Hela Batha Asiriya, (The Great Sri Lankan Agricultural Tradition) written by Mahinda Kumara Dalupotha and published by Dilmah Conservation. The One Earth Arboretum, its presentation of forestry and traditional agricultural systems and the accompanying publication have the objective of helping present and future leaders in our increasingly urban society, understand the role of nature and avoid the biophobia that has become a blight in many countries.

The inauguration of Sri Lanka,s first urban arboretum will be followed by the formal commencement of a joint commitment amongst Dilmah Conservation and Kahawatte Plantations to biodiversity and nutrition amongst rural communities. This will be marked by the Dilmah Founder,s presentation to Viren Ruberu, CEO of Kahawatte Plantations PLC., with the blessings of His Excellency the President, of the first sapling in a programme that will see 10,000 fruit trees of endemic species planted on Kahawatte Plantations for the benefit of communities living in and around them.

The Merrill J Fernando Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment

The MJF Centre Moratuwa was established in 2011 to support Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando,s vision of sharing the success of his Dilmah brand with the less fortunate and the poor. The Centre is located on a sprawling urban estate in Moratuwa, a populous city in the Colombo District. The MJF Centre houses the MJF Kids Programme, the Rainbow Centre for children with disabilities, a centre for women to seek support and solace, the Curtiss Centre for Design, Empower Culinary and Hospitality School and the Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre.

Dilmah Conservation

Dilmah Conservation was established in 2007 as an affirmation of Dilmah Tea,s commitment to environmental sustainability, ensuring that all its operations are bound by a respectful and sustainable interaction with the environment. Since its inception, Dilmah Conservation has worked on numerous initiatives successfully combining environmental conservation with livelihood development. Categorized into four focal areas which are sustainability, biodiversity, heritage and communications, these initiatives include the creation of reconciliation programmes by using nature as a catalyst, introduction to sustainable initiatives in the spheres of agriculture and the implementation of programmes on the protection of species habitat and biodiversity through public service announcements and other media.

http://www.dilmahconservation.org/arboretum/
http://www.dilmahconservation.org/
https://www.instagram.com/dilmahconservation/
https://www.facebook.com/DilmahConservation
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Story of K.Sivaranjini

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Parallel to the reawakening taking place in the north; post war, K.Sivaranjini feels a revival within; a revival brought about by the sense of satisfaction she derives from the livelihood activity she started with the MJF Charitable Foundation’s support.

Story of Edward Shanthi

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Among the multifaceted projects that the MJF Charitable Foundation has initiated in terms of post war rebuilding in the north, the Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) provides livelihood support for those traumatized and battered by the three decade long ethnic conflict. Edward Shanthi; a hardworking and capable individual, when supported by the Foundation became a productive small entrepreneur who could in turn translate her individual success for the benefit of many others.

Story of M. Kamaleswary

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For M. Kamaleshwary, a war widow, livelihood support of the MJF Foundation came at a time when she was coping with a personal loss while the wounds of the three decade long ethnic conflict she experienced, first hand, were still fresh upon her mind…Foundation’s livelihood support , to some level, healed her aching wounds, she echoes.

MJF Charitable Foundation develops Kayts Base hospital in North of Sri Lanka

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Merrill J. Fernando, Settlor of the MJF Charitable Foundation, inaugurated a new Outpatient Department and Administrative Block for the Kayts Base Hospital earlier this month. The Dilmah Founder established his foundation to fulfill his commitment to making business a matter of human service. He was joined by Provincial Director of Health Services in the Northern Province, Dr. A. Ketheswaran and Secretary Ministry of Health & Indigenous Medicine Northern Province S. Thiruvakaran, Divisional Secretary - Kayts E Anton Yoganayagam, doctors serving in the region and Mr. Ravi Thambiayah, son of Mr. Alfred Thambiayah, who served as MP for Kayts in the 1950s.

The facility will serve a population of 41,000 from Kayts and surrounding islands. The urgency of the need for an OPD facility was emphasized by several of the people present at the inauguration ceremony. They spoke of the trauma and avoidable suffering caused by the lack of accessible medical facilities especially in the case of snake bites, childbirth, and the physical and cost burden of having to travel to Jaffna for these common issues.

During the conflict of over three decades that hindered progress in the area the colonial era Kayts base hospital - built in the 1930s - served the population of Kayts and the adjacent islands of Velanai, Punguduthivu, Naninativu, Delft, Analitivu, Eluvaitivu, Mandaitivu and Karainagar. The facility has not undergone significant development for decades and the consequent deterioration of medical care caused unimaginable hardship.


Kayts and the islands in the region lacked a X-Ray unit and laboratory, both of which will be part of the services offered by the new Outpatient facility. Due to the lack of facilities, patients were referred to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital for medical treatment, according to the Dr. A. Ketheswaran.

It was not only the patients themselves that suffered as a result of the lack of local facilities, for the family members and care givers of patients faced hardship linked to the absence of affordable and regular transportation and the additional cost of accommodation in Jaffna even for relatively minor medical investigation or treatment. The economic consequences of war have taken their toll on the area, with few employment opportunities and a weak economy. Most of the remaining population is therefore poor and unable to afford these costs.

"Patients who require immediate medical attention faced innumerable difficulties in the past. These people are not rich enough to bear the expenses if they are required to stay in Jaffna for medical treatment." says a patient at the hospital, S. Wasanthan.


The new OPD and Administrative block, a two storied structure of 14,000 sq. ft for Laboratory, X-Ray unit, Clinics, Dispensary and administrative unit will make Kayts Base Hospital a referral centre for the area; benefiting around 50,000 residents. In 2015 the hospital received around 114 patients daily, a number that is expected to increase considerably with the additional facilities.

This project is amongst several that the Dilmah Founder is implementing in the North of Sri Lanka. Others include education, entrepreneurship development, agriculture, conservation and environmental education.

The major extension to the Kayts Base Hospital, built within 14 months by the Foundation at a cost of Rs. 65 million - is an achievement that every Dilmah customer around the world can be proud of, for it is the outcome of the philosophy that business is a matter of human service. The work of the MJF Foundation is funded by Dilmah Tea and ancillary business with the intention of sharing the success of the brand with the less privileged in the community and the environment.

Addressing the official opening, Merrill J. Fernando said; "I did not realise the significance of this hospital at first. I thought I was going to fund a hospital and that is always an honour. But today I learned the plight of the people in the area and I am deeply pleased to have been able to offer this assistance. God has blessed me with success and I believe that it is His Purpose that those blessings are shared with the less fortunate. That is why I founded the MJF Charitable Foundation. Every year we allocate 10% of the pretax profits from our business for serving those less fortunate and it is the most satisfying part of my business."

"This is the fulfilment of a long-felt need," says Dr. Ketheswaran, emphasising that it is a 'symbol of goodwill from people in the South to people in the North.'

"This will bridge North and the South. This will strengthen the goodwill between Sinhala and Tamil communities," he adds.

Sivanesan Kanthan is a patient who expressed similar sentiments. Hard hit by the war that lasted for many decades, he feels that the region still lack sound infrastructure facilities. The hospital gifted to the North by their "counterparts in the South" will strengthen the goodwill between Sinhalese and Tamils, he opines.

MJF Kids Jaffna

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The MJF Kids programme was established in the belief that every child has inherent and outstanding ability, requiring only the means to nurture that ability. The MJF Kids and their parents benefit from art, life skills, supplementary conventional education and a caring environment. The educational and nutritional programmes of the “Anjali Aham” Psychosocial Counselling Centre in Jaffna, North of Sri Lanka commenced in 2011 as a part of the educational and livelihood support. Today, the programme benefits around 250 children- mostly those from poor and marginalised backgrounds, and the war affected- who come to the Centre, on weekday afternoons to receive guidance in their school curriculum. Here they also get exposure to develop their socialm life skills through the leadership development, outreach programmes and other social/cultural activities organised from time to time. Since its commencement, three batches of students have completed their studies up to Ordinary Level while 14 other students receive further assistance in their Advanced Level studies under the educational scholarship scheme of the MJFCF


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