Taste of Traditional GoodnessJan 22, 2017
In the midst of the ever-expanding and lucrative fast food market in Sri Lanka and the world over, Hela Bojun Hala (Outlets) are now being introduced island-wide by the Ministry of Agriculture, to promote local food and create a healthier generation.
Just two minutes from the Ampara Clock Tower lies Ampara’s first Hela Bojun Hala officially declared open on the 29 August 2016 and four months down the line, business is booming. Amidst the morning rush orders, Priyanthi Renuka, from Damana Ampara, smiles and greets everyone as she prepares her signature dish ‘Balanced Roti’, which is her twist to the traditional ‘Pol Roti’, providing customers a wholesome meal for Rs.20 per roti.
Priyanthi comes from a small rural village in Ampara and travels 40 Km daily to and from work to provide for her family of five. Managing with just a few hours of sleep a day, Priyanthi works hard and with the steady support of her husband who takes care of her three children whilst she is away in the kitchen and in the outlet, she is now able to earn an income while saving for the children.
Before the Hela Bojun outlet was opened, Priyanthi was a home cook, providing food to fellow villagers whilst taking care of her children. Today, with the establishment of the Outlet, she and 30 other women from the area are provided with stable employment opportunities
“Even though there are days when the business is not so profitable, the fact that many customers travel far to taste and appreciate what I have cooked, compensates for it” says Priyanthi.
Similarly, Asuntha Kumari from Nawagampura has the widest smile on her face as she explains that before she started working at ‘Hela Bojun Hala’ she too was a home cook who used to sell her signature ‘Thosai’ from home. For Asuntha as well, life has changed completely as she now has the opportunity to work together with a network of women to showcase her culinary skills whilst also benefitting financially.
As implied by the name of the outlet, in the spirit of sharing the ‘True Sri Lankan Taste’, the Hela Bojun Hala offers customers clean, nutritious traditional food at a reasonable price. The establishment of this outlet, an initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture of Sri Lanka, was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the European Union funded Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) to provide training and capacity development to these 30 women to improve their livelihoods.
Today, these women work day in and day out to provide the best quality dishes that are a definite favorite in the area.
After all, who can refuse the taste of traditional goodness prepared with a spoonful of love?