Fulfilling its ongoing commitment to its communities and other stakeholders, the John Keells Group has been playing an active role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka from the beginning of the lockdown in Sri Lanka. The largest conglomerate in Sri Lanka, through its CSR entity, John Keells Foundation, as well as different Group companies has supported multiple relief efforts including critical infrastructure development, strengthening the safety of those in frontline services and provision of immediate relief to affected communities.
John Keells Foundation (JKF) in collaboration with South Asia Gateway Terminals, Deutsche Bank and Melstacorp PLC, supported the establishment of a Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH) towards meeting the urgent need of the time to increase the testing capacity of Sri Lanka following the COVID-19 outbreak. This collaboration enabled a temporary lab facility to be operational at IDH from 29th March 2020 while the permanent facility, which was declared open on 28th April 2020, further enhanced IDH’s testing capacity and turnaround time.
JKF also assisted Government hospitals with the donation of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to strengthen the safety of the front-liners battling the COVID-19 pandemic and to minimize their exposure to the virus. PPE donations were made to IDH and the Teaching Hospital at Kotelawala Defense University (KDU), the Homagama Base Hospital with the support of Ceylon Cold Stores (Elephant House) and Base Hospitals in Neluwa and Hiniduma in collaboration with Tea Smallholder Factories (TSF). Keells supermarkets donated PPE to the District General Hospital in Gampaha and the Public Health Inspectors (PHI) in the Colombo District. JKF with the support of TSF also donated PPE among PHI in Neluwa and Hiniduma. Elephant House and Keells Food Products donated PPE to Medical Officers of Health (MOH) in Pannala, Ja-ela and Awissawella, hospitals in Sandalankawa, Seeduwa and Nawagamuwa and police stations in Pannala, Ja-ela, Nawagamuwa and Awissawella. The PPE requirement for PHI of Peliyagoda, Mabole, Mahabage, Sedawatta, Seeduwa, Enderamulla and Avissawella was met by John Keells Logisitics. Furthermore, Elephant House together with John Keells Office Automation supported the donation of a photocopy machine to the MOH office in Kaduwela. TSF assisted in disinfecting the Neluwa Hospital and public areas of the Neluwa town.
Many low income families were severely affected in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown in Sri Lanka. JKF with the support of Elephant House and Keells supermarkets distributed 10,000 packs of essential provisions free of charge to families identified by the District Secretary/Government Agent of Colombo among communities in Slave Island, Thimbirigasyaya, Mattakkuliya and Kolonnawa. Union Assurance with the assistance of the Colombo District Secretariat, Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD) and its staff distributed over 2,000 packs of essential goods to needy families in Mattakuliya, Kolonnawa, Thimbirigasyaya, Kirulapone and Narahenpita and another 649 packs in Matara, Chilaw, Maho, Marawila, Kurunegala and Thanamalwilla in collaboration with the Government Medical Officers Association. Keells supermarkets with the support of Sooriyaweva Divisional Secretariat also donated 300 packs of essential goods among community members in Sooriyaweva which included long terms suppliers of fruits and vegetables to Keells supermarkets.
JKF, Elephant House, Keells supermarkets, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo and Cinnamon Red Colombo also donated essential food provisions and hydration aid for IDH staff, Armed Forces and other social service organisations in the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff of the John Keells Group have supported the Group’s relief initiatives in multiple ways including personal donations as well as volunteering to distribute relief aid to hospitals and affected communities. A noteworthy initiative has been the engagement of Group Staff in several businesses including those in supermarkets, warehouse operations, hotels, travel and transportation operations who were called upon to serve essential national needs, including online deliveries, maintaining food and essential product supply chains, repatriation of tourists as well as coordinating and transporting relief aid in the aftermath of the lockdown .
Disaster Relief is one of the six focus areas of the John Keells Group. Under its CSR Vision of `Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow’, the Group pledges to come to the aid of Sri Lankans and global communities in times of adversity and disaster towards enabling them to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Accordingly, JKF continues to monitor the situation and plan medium to long-term support initiatives relating to COVID-19 in collaboration with Group businesses and other stakeholders including Government agencies, NGO partners and community based organizations.