John Keells group volunteers assisting in packing the relief items
Following the severe tropical storm that caused widespread flooding and landslides in several parts of the country last week, destroying homes and displacing thousands of people, the John Keells group initiated immediate support towards flood relief in collaboration with The Capital Maharaja Organisation Limited.
A substantial monetary contribution was committed via John Keells Foundation towards immediate flood relief through the Sirasa Shakthi John Keells Sahana Yathra. The John Keells group volunteers were also mobilized to assist in sorting and packing relief items throughout a 24-hour period while the staff of group businesses in the affected districts were involved in the distribution efforts.
The Capital Maharaja collection centre operated for approximately 48 hours from May 18 to 20, collecting from suppliers and the public, dry rations including rice, dhal, milk powder, instant noodles, tea leaves, biscuits and other non-perishable foods and sanitation products. Public donations were also made possible via the convoys carrying sacred relics for the Sirasa John Keells Vesak Kalapaya, travelling from Kirinda to Weligama, and Mawanella to Kegalle.
The first convoy of relief consignments left the collection centre in the morning of May 20 to affected areas with relief packs estimated to benefit around 86,000 persons. The areas were finalized in discussion with the Disaster Management Centre to ensure that the relief packs went to the areas most affected including Aranayaka (Kegalle District), Gampaha, Kolonnawa and Kaduwela (Colombo District), Kilinochchi and Wennapuwa (Puttalam District).
In addition, Sirasa Shakthi John Keells Suva Yathra was held on May 28, 2016 at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara whereby a health camp was facilitated with doctors available to address the affected persons’ medical needs.
As a key private sector conglomerate in Sri Lanka, the John Keells group is able to mobilize the support of its stakeholders including its workforce in times of disasters through both monetary contributions and manpower support. The group was heartened by the numerous queries and offers of assistance received from its partners, clients, customers and staff, with more than 250 employee volunteers working tirelessly over 24 hours on sorting and packing relief items and many joining in the distribution efforts.
The John Keells group was pleased to collaborate with The Capital Maharaja Organisation, once again, in a relief effort of this nature, enabling the relief provided to be streamlined and impact a large number of affected persons. The group also wishes to acknowledge the overwhelming response from other corporates and the public, who readily offered their support towards the relief efforts.
Meanwhile, the group businesses in the affected areas such as Ceylon Cold Stores PLC, Union Assurance and group resorts also supported the distribution of relief items directly to the affected persons.
Several of the group’s businesses were also involved in collecting and distributing immediate relief to persons affected in the respective areas of operation. John Keells Foundation will continue to monitor the situation and assess the needs, to provide relief in the short term as well as to assist the affected persons in the resettlement process.
Supporting our fellow citizens in their time of need has been a vital aspect of the John Keells group’s culture. Disaster relief is in fact one of the group’s main corporate social responsibility (CSR) pillars, which involves the provision of relief to victims of natural and man-made disasters, helping them rebuild their lives and livelihoods. The group businesses have played a leading role in relief initiatives in the aftermath of both natural disasters such as tsunami, drought and floods as well as post-conflict issues relating to resettlement of internally displaced persons.
Apart from immediate relief initiatives such as provision of food, water, clothing, medical and other essential supplies, medium to long-term relief has also been provided, such as access to clean water and sanitation, tools of trade and livelihoods, construction of housing, schools and field hospitals and manning of port and airport logistics following the 2004 tsunami.