In 2010, Dole extended its partnership with The Asia Foundation to donate school books and reading material to four adopted schools in Sri Lanka.
The Asia Foundation (TAF), a non-governmental organization (NGO) backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Program and other official development assistance agencies, is “committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just, and open Asia-Pacific region.” In the Philippines, through its Books for Asia Program, it has been distributing books to schools, day care centers, NGOs and government agencies since 1954 and only began a “special focus” on Mindanao in 2003.
Dole’s partnership with TAF began in 2009 with a book drive for 55 adopted schools in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Though 80,473 books were donated by Books for Asia Philippines specifically for Dole’s schools (benefiting close to 25,000 children), a total of 141,207 books were distributed throughout the country. This turnover coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Company’s Adopt-a-School program. While the books are free, Dole handled the transportation of the books from TAF’s Manila office to Davao City and the consequent distribution to supported schools in Mindanao with the help of partner NGOs, Kasilak Development Foundation, Inc. and Mahintana Foundation, Inc.
The following year, Dole approached TAF Philippines about the possibility of extending the donation to include adopted schools in Sri Lanka, where the Foundation is also present. With the recommendation and endorsement made by TAF Philippines to its office in Sri Lanka, Dole Lanka’s four adopted schools (nearly 2,000 school children) became the beneficiaries of much-needed books. The two-day turnover event took place on October 26 – 27, 2010 with Dole Lanka General Manager Leonardo Dominguez, Finance Director Samudra Hewawickrama, and HR Director Anusha Weerasekera present during the rites.
The Sri Lankan beneficiaries of TAF’s new books are public schools located near Dole Lanka’s farms, which employ approximately 65% of the children’s parents. The schools are: Gonaganara Primary School (near Demodara Farm), Waguruwela Central College (near Buttala Farm), MO/ KudaOya Primary School (near KudaOya Farm), and B/Redee Welampala Primary School (near Mahiyanagana Farm).
On February 22, 2011, the partnership with TAF was further strengthened when officials from its Nepal, Bangladesh, and US offices visited one of Dole Lanka’s adopted schools to witness first-hand how the donated books are utilized. The guests were shown classrooms and the school’s library, which houses the donated reading materials.
After the tour, Anton Nallathamby, Books for Asia Sri Lanka Program Director said, “We are grateful to Dole Lanka for helping and putting up the library in the poorest district of the country. Now, children have a place where they can study and have access to valuable books. No doubt they can obtain academic achievement using the available resources here.” In turn, school head Bandula Premarathana, on behalf of Waguruwela Central College, conveyed his appreciation by thanking the visitors, citing that the books have made the children’s lives brighter.