The MJF Centre in Weligama
Our social impact is driven largely through the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation and our employee-led Good Works committees. As with conservation activities, 15% of pre-tax profit is contributed to the initiatives of the MJF Charitable Foundation. This enables the Foundation to use their expertise across mental disability support, vocational training and women-led entrepreneurship to make meaningful change.
The first centre fully supported by Resplendent Ceylon, the MJF Centre at Cape Weligama supports the community living around the hotel. Weligama’s main source of income is through fishing. With the increased costs and competition for the ocean’s resources, the community works hard towards diversifying its economy and opportunities; tourism being the most obvious and key industry.
The Centre officially opened in September 2017, but our resort staff and management team began to work with the community in April the same year, lending support to the lives of the community through employment opportunities and direct livelihood support. The MJF Kids Programme at the centre provides educational support, scholarships, music, art, dancing, chess and pottery for children aged 13 and below.
The Centre operates as a pre-school throughout the week, where children have the opportunity to learn and play while developing their social skills. This not only provides a great start to the educational foundation of the children of the community but also provides parents with the freedom to work and earn without the worry of child-care.
After school hours, older children are provided with additional support in lessons such as science and mathematics in preparation for the fifth grade scholarship undertaken in Sri Lanka’s schooling system. Together with access to extra curricular activities such as art and dance the Centre’s aim is to provide students with a well rounded education.
A special programme for women and youth in terms of livelihoods and life skills support was also introduced in recent years. Ambassadors from Cape Weligama volunteer their time to provide ongoing Spoken English lessons focused on employability and tourism in an effort to uplift the community’s tourism offering.
Although the Centre is located in the vicinity of Cape Weligama, volunteers from Resplendent Ceylon’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Yala also engage with the community here. Ocean’s Day 2022 was celebrated with marine conservation focused learning opportunities conducted by the world-class rangers of the Lodge. Additionally, in the works is an ongoing conservation series covering various ecosystems and the importance of biodiversity aimed at inculcating a love for the environment at a young age.
Guests staying at the resort are able to visit the centre during its operating hours and participate in some of the programmes, lending towards our efforts of sharing knowledge and uplifting the community.