Funded by the Dilmah Family and revenue from sales of Dilmah, the MJF Foundation designs, funds and implements over 150 projects each year. Fulfilling Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando’s personal pledge to care and share, the Foundation has changed the lives of over 10,000 people each year through education, housing, welfare and empowerment programmes. Its schools offer education, scholarships and care to over 6,500 children and the Foundation’s Small Entrepreneur Programme has been hailed as an example of empowerment with dignity.
Long before fair trade and sustainability were buzzwords for an eco-conscious generation, Merrill J. Fernando was embodying them through his business.
- Shalaka Paradhkar, writing in Friday Magazine, UAE
Human Service in the Tea Gardens
For many children from tea plantations, pursuing further education is just not possible, as parents often lack resources to support them. The MJF Charitable Foundation assists schools in Dilmah tea gardens and established the MJF Scholarship Scheme to support higher education and provide the next generation of plantation children greater opportunity in life.
Small Entrepreneur Programme
An initiative of the MJF Charitable Foundation, the Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) supports and enriches the lives of many. SEP focuses on building peoples’ talents, preparing them to lead independent, productive lives and often, become role models in their villages. Many disadvantaged people, from across the country, have become entrepreneurs benefiting from SEP.
Prison’s Small Entrepreneur Programme – Reform & Integrate
A life of poverty leads many individuals to a life of crime. Unable to return to society, they keep returning to jail. The Reform and Integrate Programme of the MJF Charitable Foundation is the only one of its kind in the country that provides ex-prisoners a chance to integrate into society and live with dignity.
Empowering the North of Sri Lanka
Unfavourable social conditions experienced in Sri Lanka’s North and East, in the aftermath of the war, led the MJF Charitable Foundation to establish a special Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP) to support women marginalised, as a result. Female led single parent families were worst affected. Now, through the SEP, many have developed their own businesses and live in dignity.
Water for Pahalalanda
The MJF Charitable Foundation established an irrigation scheme in Pahalalanda, a remote village in Sri Lanka’s Monaragala District, one of the least developed areas in the country. Since then, an entire community now, has access to potable water- a luxury just a few years ago.
MJF Kids Programme
In the vicinity of the MJF Group, lie some of the poorest urban dwellings in Colombo, where children often miss out on leading normal lives. The MJF Charitable Foundation launched the MJF Kids Programme to give these children education, life-skills training and the opportunity to experience life beyond poverty and hopelessness.
Local Heroes – Changing Lives
The Local Heroes Programme of the MJF Charitable Foundation evolved from the Small Entrepreneur Programme (SEP). SEP supports individuals who show promise in developing their skills. This is taken further to benefit the wider community through the Local Heroes Programme. Sumith is an entrepreneur who empowered himself and a community of 100 people through the SEP.
Enabling the Differently Abled
Poverty and inadequate infra-structure aggravates the plight of differently-abled individuals, especially in rural areas. Thus, the MJF Charitable Foundation supports the Monaragala Subhagya Vidyalaya - School for the Hearing & Visual Impaired, in the Monaragala District in the South east. These students are prepared for a better future, through education and vocational training.
Providing opportunities for women to better themselves is part of the work carried out by the MJF Charitable Foundation. A specially designed programme focussed on livelihood training for women from marginalised communities is now underway at the MJF Centre in Moratuwa. The programme includes mothers of differently-abled children who come for therapy to the Rainbow Centre.
Young children of plantation workers are often placed in poorly supervised crèches leading to inadequate care. The MJF Charitable Foundation recognised this reality, in the restoration of Child Development Centres (CDCs) across tea gardens. Modern, fully equipped CDCs with professionally trained staff provide care, welfare and nutrition to thousands of young children.
MJF Centre Moratuwa
The MJF Charitable Foundation established the Rainbow Centre at the MJF Centre, Moratuwa, to address the needs of children with special needs in Sri Lanka. The Rainbow Centre provides care and therapy for children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and other developmental delays, with sensory integration mechanisms, which include Sri Lanka’s first Snoezelen Room.
Sports for the Differently Able
The MJF Charitable Foundation supports differently-abled sportsmen and women through the Merrill J. Fernando Trophy for Excellence in Blind Cricket and AIDEX. AIDEX is the only annual sporting event held exclusively for the differently-abled in Sri Lanka. Through these initiatives, people with disabilities are provided an opportunity to actively participate in sports and enhance their skills.