Northern stars

May 2, 2019 | Categorized in: | By: Deborah Kilcollins

In December in this space, we wrote about Sri Lanka’s nonprofit Jetwing Youth Development Program (JYDP), which helps train children of war in northern Sri Lanka to enter the hospitality industry. It offers a hand up with free training that teaches them skills to become part of the globally expanding hospitality industry.

The Spirit of Big Five Foundation supports this project because it offers positive solutions to chronic poverty and unemployment to the most disadvantaged youth in the country. These kids need jobs to help them climb out of the poverty pit they have fallen into by the happenstance of birth.

JYDP has been opening doors into that field since 2006, first at Jetwing Vil Uyana property in Sigiriya and later expanding their programs to other areas of the island including Negombo, Galle, Hambantota, Passikudah, Jaffna and Nuwara Eliya.

Our latest update shows that the Spirit of Big Five is supporting training for 53 students, paying for training for eight students at Jetwing Yala; 37 at Jetwing Lighthouse; and another eight students at Jetwing Vil Uyana.

The goal in replicating this program across the island has been to provide the Sri Lankan hotel industry with adequately trained entry-level employees, while simultaneously involving local communities by providing local youth who successfully complete the program and go on to find employment.

The program began as a community inclusive initiative to address the challenge of youth unemployment and has now evolved into a sustainable solution to the shortage of employees in the hospitality industry. More than 25 such projects have been completed around the island in the last 12 years. Projects such as this are more important today as the country works to regain its footing after recent civil unrest.

This project has a special meaning for Big Five’s CEO, Mahen Sanghrajka, because he, too, began his career in travel by training in hotel management in Nairobi, Kenya.

“I am always heartened when I see programs offering young people this kind of training. It gives them a stake in their own future,” said Sanghrajka.