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Asela Madushanka

Asela Madushanka

3rd Commis Chef at Shangri La Hotel, Colombo Alumni of Empower Culinary & Hospitality School

I earn a stable income through my profession and take care of my family as much as I can.

Merrill J. Fernando is a person I look up to in my life. He is a touchstone for all that I aspire to be in the future. Thanks to his kindness and generosity, hundreds and thousands of youth like me are living their dreams.

Life takes us down all kinds of paths we never imagined. Sometimes, you find yourself lost in all directions but there will be one person - one place to guide you through.

Growing up, I didn’t have the most comfortable upbringing at home. My parents couldn’t afford me and my brothers a good quality of life. I did not have big dreams, goals or aspirations to do anything more than what I was already doing. Everything changed in 2011 at MJF Centre Moratuwa. I was only 11 when I joined their MJF Kids Programme. I continued to benefit from their services until I enrolled in the second intake of MJF Foundation’s Empower Culinary & Hospitality School. The knowledge and skills I gathered at their culinary boot camp opened my mind to so many possibilities that I never knew existed. Upon completing the course, I was lucky enough to find a job as a trainee chef in one of the leading start class hotels in Colombo. During that period, I put my heart and soul into the work I did.
There were days I had to work 16-hour shifts - to prove my worth. One and a half years later, I was elevated to a 3rd Commis chef. This promotion was a step up on the ladder that made me want to take a leap in life and trust myself to do better. Today, I earn a stable income through my profession and take care of my family as much as I can. I am truly grateful for my workplace and its staff. The house
I used to live in before was in a poor condition which had no sufficient living space and no access to improved sanitation. A group of colleagues who got to know about it teamed up with a few youth volunteers and helped rebuild our house with home improvements.

I am in constant awe of my journey at MJF Centre Moratuwa. It is a place that has changed my life in every possible way. Through their work, I found out that I was capable of acting, cooking and accomplishing greater heights in future! My entire family benefits from services offered at the Centre now. My mother works as a helper in the kitchen while taking care of my younger brother - who is an MJF kid and my older brother who has an intellectual disability. He has been with the Rainbow Youth for many years.

"I earn a stable income through my profession and take care of my family as much as I can."