In February this year, the MJF Charitable Foundation embarked on its most ambitious project today – the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment – East. The Centre replicates the concept of empowerment with dignity for underprivileged and marginalised communities that the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment - South implements. An initiative by the MJF Charitable Foundation which fulfills Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando's philosophy of making business a matter of human service, the Centre in the East has the vision to transform the lives of the communities whose wellbeing was compromised due to the ethnic conflict.

Amidst preparation for delivering a great outcome for people in the East, the MJF Charitable Foundation team recently convened the government officials, business community, representatives of Rotary Sri Lanka and the Eastern University for a special meeting in Kalkudah to enable them gain insights into this largest ever humanitarian and environmental project getting off the ground in the Eastern region, post war.

The project, it is envisaged, would improve the quality of life of the communities that are most underserved and deserving of assistance.

A replication of several community development initiatives under the MJF Charitable Foundation such as the MJF Centre in Moratuwa which implements multifaceted projects, the National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Disorders in Ambagahawatte, Sithijaya Centre in Ambalantota, Empower Culinary & Hospitality School, this Centre in the East has the objective to find long term solutions to the foremost challenges faced by the community in the area- predominantly the issues of unemployment, lack of vocational training opportunities, teenage pregnancies, high rate of school drop outs, deteriorating forest cover etc. Of the 14 Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the Eastern Province, the Centre will primarily focus on nine DS Divisions including areas with the highest concentration of vulnerable communities. 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 in the East 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 at the Centre 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 Sri Lanka's East.

The management advisory team of the Centre include; Rotarian Past President M. Ganesharajah (Rotary Club Batticaloa, Commissioner of Inland Revenue for the East and the North), Rotarian Past President Dr. K. E. Karunakaran (Rotary Club of Batticaloa and member of the Faculty of Healthcare Sciences in the Eastern University of Sri Lanka), Rtn.N.Pathmanathan (District Governor 2002-2003, RI District 3220 - Sri Lanka & The Maldives), Dilhan C. Fernando (Trustee of the MJF Foundation), Thamindri De Silva (Manager – Strategic Development of the MJF Foundation) and S. Kamalanathan (Manager – Projects of the MJF Foundation).

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