Ma's Coconut Milk: The Story of Basilica De Silva
Coconut milk is an essential item to have in your store cupboard. With so many uses, from adding cream to your hearty soups, to thickening your porridge and smoothies, no pantry would be complete without it!
When it comes to selecting the very best coconut milk to pop into your delicious recipes, you needn’t look any further than Ma’s Happy Life Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk. This wonder product is the UK's first 100% Organic, Fairtrade and Great Taste Award winning coconut milk.
Ma’s Happy Life Kitchen believes in sustainable development for a sustainable future; the business was founded on strong, fair trade principles and their work focuses on supporting their diverse workforce’s welfare and development. Sustainably sourced from smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka, this tasty coconut milk has been lovingly squeezed from fresh coconuts to produce the smoothest coconut milk that’s bursting with flavour.
It is at this point on our journey that we arrive in the village of Kalahugoda, Sri Lanka, and meet local resident, Basilica De Silva. Basilica is 51 years old and comes from a middle-class family in a minority Catholic community. When she was 15 years old, her life dramatically changed, due to the unfortunate passing of her father, forcing her to leave her studies behind, to support her mother and siblings.
After 10 years of supporting her family, Basilica married her soldier husband, and spent 17 happy years raising their two children. Just as it seemed she’d got her life back on track, Basilica’s husband was badly injured after stepping on a landmine during the 30-year ethnic conflict in North Sri Lanka. Basilica nursed her husband through this very difficult time, supporting her family on a humble Army pension. After years of struggling to cope with her handicapped husband and two children, her husband passed away, leaving her a single, determined mother.
Finding good employment at her age was difficult, but Basilica was driven by the fact that she didn’t want her children’s educations to suffer like hers had, all those years ago.
It was at this point, Basilica joined Ma’s Happy Life Kitchen’s coconut milk production facility in Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka, as a trainee production assistant. Soon after, due to Basilica’s hard work and commitment to her role, she was offered a permanent role at the factory’s canning line – making sure that your organic coconut milk arrives to your doorstep as fresh as it was the day it was harvested. Working here has changed Basilica’s life, as it is close to her home and meals are provided at the factory, so she can save much of her income to spend on her family. With the fair wage that she earns, she is able to provide a comfortable life for her children, and the good education that she herself had cut short, fulfilling her dream of educating them to become respected professionals.
Until Ma’s reopened the facility, it had been closed for many years. Now, it offers career opportunities to 70 people, including women like Basilica, and supports over 200 happy organic coconut growers in the area.
For more inspirational producer stories, updates from our CEO and information about the work we do with smallholder farmers and cooperatives, check out the other articles on our blog.
If you'd like to make a delicious rice pudding from ingredients including Ma's Organic Coconut Milk, check out our tried and tested recipe!