Within hours of the Tsunami disaster that struck Sri Lanka in 2004, foreign business partners of the John Keells Group sprang into action offering assistance to the hundreds of thousands affected. The unanimous response of the John Keells Group’s network of foreign partners consisted of funds and relief items worth over 70 million rupees. The donations were channeled through the Tide Relief Initiative, a high-level committee set up by JKH in the aftermath of the disaster to steer and focus the company’s aid effort.
“We are touched by the generosity of our partners who responded immediately to the devastation faced by our nation following the Tsunami. We thank each of the companies and their employees for their kindness at this time of need. We are indeed honoured to be associated with partners such as these”, said Sumithra Gunasekera, Director of John Keells Holdings and Head of the company’s Tide Relief Initiative.
DHL - who together with John Keells operate DHL Keells (Pvt) Ltd in Sri Lanka - donated Rs. 37 Million worth of essential goods. The medical supplies, dry rations, tents, ready-to-eat food cans, water and other essential goods came from DHL offices in Middle East, Singapore, and Germany. The Staff of DHL Keells personally distributed the relief items to affected persons in Batticaloa and Ampara.
Schenker International’s humanitarian response consisted of relief items worth Rs. 30 Million, which continue to be distributed to relief centers across the devastated districts. Schenker chartered two aircraft aboard which the items were delivered to Sri Lanka, personally accompanied by Schenker officials, in a logistical operation costing over Rs. 50 million. Schenker is also focusing on long-term involvement with the rehabilitation effort and is considering prospective projects in partnership with John Keells, which will be the local custodian of the projects. Schenker International is represented in Sri Lanka by Mack International Freight, the freight forwarding arm of the John Keells Group.
Jet Airways, represented in Sri Lanka by the John Keells Airlines division, made a contribution of Rs. 5 Million to the President’s Fund for Tsunami Relief Efforts. The cheque was handed over to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the President’s House, Colombo by Jet Airways’ Executive Vice President, Lt. Gen (Retd.) Inder Varma. P&O Nedlloyd also made a cash donation of Rs. 1 Million through their Regional Office in India and will, on an ongoing basis, undertake the sponsorship of secondary education for children in partnership with John Keells.
The organization of Sports Development and Performance of France has meanwhile joined hands with Walkers Tours to organize a French marathon tour under the theme “Rebuilding Sri Lanka” to raise funds for rebuilding activities in tsunami ravaged areas. The marathon, featuring over sixty marathon specialists, will be held between 21st of February and the 2nd of March.
The JKH Tide Relief Initiative Volunteer Corps saw over 250 employees from across the group registering to volunteer within 24 hours of its formation. The company has also taken the initiative to train 50 employees in Trauma Management so that they may be effective psychosocial supporters of those affected by the tragedy.
The John Keells Group and its employees also distributed over Rs. 25 Million worth of relief items to the worst hit areas. JKH has also lent its strength and expertise in the Logistics Sector to the nation, by committing itself to handling logistics operations relating to relief cargo arriving at the Port of Colombo and at the Bandaranaike International Airport. This initiative, which is expected to last for around six months and involves over 50 dedicated staff working on a 24 hour basis, is also being supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).