An event highly anticipated by the MJF Kids Programme participants; both past and present- the 'First Decade of MJF Kids' took place on October 8 at the MJF Centre for Dignified and Sustainable Empowerment in Moratuwa giving an opportunity for nearly 400 from MJF Kids Programmes in Peliyagoda and Moratuwa to be a part of an enjoyable day filled with fun and excitement. This exclusive gathering of the MJF Kids was dedicated for the inspirational journey that the MJF Kids Programme embarked on, a decade ago, to empower underprivileged children from marginalised backgrounds as the first decade has produced over 1000 young men and women who have overcome many challenges in life and built on their strengths to become productive young adults. The past students sharing their life changing experience during the event; particularly how they were inspired, fostered and guided to become the ambitious individuals that they are today, was indeed a manifestation of the great strides that the MJF Kids initiative has made in fulfilling its objective of transforming underprivileged youth to become productive citizens of the country. While being a part of the carnival like atmosphere filled with live music, dance performances, games and a host of other fun activities - for which they even had the visiting celebrity chefs Sean Collins, Selvana Chelvanaigum and Volker Marecek also joining in - these youngsters renewed their old friendships or the student- teacher bonds, reminisced with great joy the special moments they shared in the good old days and made use of the endless photo opportunities that came forthwith. Some of the children enjoyed a game of cricket while others cheered on; the young culinary students put final touches to the mouthwatering dishes they prepared with the chefs while those with special talents took to the stage to entertain the crowd. Nurul Fathima- a MJF Kids programme participant from the inception, who has won the Best Melody Voice Award at the Shakthi Super Star in 2014 says she is happy about the opportunity she got to perform at the 'First Decade of the MJF Kids. "It was here at the MJF Kids Programme that I was able to discover my singing talents. So whatever I have accomplished in this field so far, I owe it to the MJF Kids programme. To me, coming back here today to sing at this event was in a way like saying a big thank you for the MJF Kids for nurturing my abilities," she says. Kiruba Ashani - a past student of MJF Kids programme also expressed similar sentiments. "I was so thrilled when I heard about this event. I have made a lot of fond memories here at the MJF Kids programme. So I looked forward to seeing my old friends; and the teachers who were like family to me," she says. At the end of the event children were in for a rare treat - that is when they got to savour the delicious high tea prepared by the three world famous chefs Selvana, Sean and Volker, for them - a memorable evening tea with which they jubilantly celebrated the milestones achieved. MJF Kids are the pride and the joy of the Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando. "Over the years, the programme has exposed many underprivileged children to a life of possibility by harnessing their potential and character. As a result, they are well equipped to step outside their existing environs and enjoy better quality of life - for themselves as well as their families" says Merrill J. Fernando.

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