Jared Ingersoll: Sri Lankan adventure

I write this column from beautiful Sri Lanka as a guest of the ‘Dilmah tea chef and the tea maker’ program in which 10 chefs are selected from around the world to work collaboratively on developing tea-inspired menus.

During our time here we have been taken to tea plantations and learned what’s involved in growing, harvesting, producing and packaging tea. The whole program has been filmed and will become part of the Dilmah tea promotional campaign.

I am not getting paid to be here, the whole amazing experience was free though (I thought I would just put that out there so you are aware of the relationship).

This trip has been truly a once in a life time experience. The product is excellent but aside from that, this is a company who embarks on commercial enterprises (like any good company should) but that is also committed to programs including forest re-habitation, wild life protection, handing ownership of land to the workers, educational programmes and medical centres. Yesterday I spent the day at the MJF Foundation, which is but one school set up for disabled children and focuses on working on Sri Lanka’s growing ranks of MS sufferers. I’ve also spent time with Dilmah founder Merrill Fernando as well as his sons, Malik and Dilhan, and been amazed at their genuine nature.

I have worked with many companies in the past and always been careful to only align myself with great products. This is no different. What these guys do is put people and community at the forefront, something not widely known. I asked Merrill why they don’t advertise their good works. His response was: “We are very blessed and it is not for me to promote my blessings, business is a matter of human service.” Wow.

I hope you don’t read this and think I am trying to push tea on you. If you like tea, then sure Dilmah is definitely worth a look. But I decided to write this because while I have been away the Budget was released in Australia and all the news I see is about those in power working for self interest and greed.

This trip has shown me what can happen when businesses simply engage with the world around them and do good things for other people. Imagine if politicians worked together on programs focused on solving actual human problems as opposed to developing strategies to build wealth for a few.

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