August

VACD August 2020 Newsletter

"When we give alms with our hearts, we give well"

Dear friends, colleagues, supporters, and collaborative partners,
Trust this newsletter finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

VACD News Flash!!! – Take One!!!

We are delighted to inform you that Teardrop Hotels in Sri Lanka https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/hotels/ are sponsors of our proposed Welimada centre scheduled to be opened in February 2021.The centre will be named "The Teardrop CARE Centre for Children with Disabilities" in recognition of their altruism, similar to our Bandarawela and Badulla centres that recognise the sponsors of these two centres.

We are looking to rent/lease a suitable property in a good location around the Welimada Town that can accommodate around 30 to 50 children that should also be easily accessible to children with physical disabilities. The premises should have sufficient space for group activities. Please reach out to our VACD Sri Lanka Secretary Col. Kumarasinghe at the VACD Bandarawela centre via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. should you know of or wish to offer such a premises to VACD on a long-term lease.

We are looking to employ an experienced specialist head teacher for the Welimada centre who will be supported by two trainee assistants and a caretaker and will need to be a tutor, coach, and mentor to her assistants. Ideally, such a person may be from Welimada and wish to relocate to her hometown for family, work after retirement or other reasons that would be mutually beneficial to her and us. Please reach out to our VACD Sri Lanka Secretary Col. Kumarasinghe (contact details as above) should you know of someone or wish to apply for this position yourself.

The Teardrop Hotels’ Story:

Michael Davies, Charlie Austin, and Henry Fitch are lifelong friends who met on the cricket pitch of Bryanston School in England, aged 13. Two decades later, serendipity brought them back together in Sri Lanka, where they discovered a mutual passion to establish boutique hotels & provide luxury travel offerings around the island. These were small stylish hotels blended with bespoke services and experiences which together represented a microcosm of this beautiful teardrop shaped island. Their dream and vision became “Teardrop Hotels”. The extended version of their story is found on: https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/our-story/

Teardrop’s Inspiring Hotels, Distinctive Destinations & Enchanting Experiences:

Sri Lanka is their passion. Their small, stylish hotels are uniquely different from one to another, but fit seamlessly together in a montage of diverse and distinctive locations. As you stay and travel between them, you will experience the beautiful island as a whole, a fusion of highlands and sea, colour, and culture. As you journey through their collection, you will discover their unique blend of design inspired by its natural surroundings, beautiful restorations of heritage buildings and reimagined vintage tea bungalows. Each one totally unique yet connected by fresh, contemporary interiors and a vibe that feels like home. Every meal is made with passion and the purest local ingredients, much of it grown in their own gardens. Bedrooms are calm little havens; communal areas are vibrant and sociable. You will meet like-minded travellers and be inspired by their tales and journeys, too. Teardrop staff wear big smiles and love to surprise their guests with thoughtful little touches; that will make you reminisce their natural hospitality. But most memorable will be the personalised adventures they create for you – bike rides through tea plantations, picnics on golden beaches, and excellent guides who assist you to explore the island’s rich culture, history, diversity and breathtaking beauty that lets you experience the natural and authentic Sri Lanka.

Links to Teardrop Hotels & Images:

Wallawwa https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/wallawwa/
Fort Bazaar https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/fort-bazaar/
Kumu Beach https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/kumu-beach/
Lunuganga http://www.lunuganga.com/
Nine Skies https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/nine-skies/
Goatfell https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/goatfell/
Camellia Hills https://www.teardrop-hotels.com/camellia-hills/

Teardrop: Caring for their Staff and Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Whilst their staff have been diligently working on deep cleaning the properties, beautifying the gardens, and developing menus, the management’s key focus during the pandemic was safeguarding the jobs of their employees:

"Our attention has been towards reworking our annual plans and ensuring we are in a position to secure our employees’ jobs. We've seen a large growth in local tourism since the curfew was lifted in June, and we’re very hopeful that by the end of year we will start to see international travel resume to Sri Lanka."
Henry Fitch, Chief Executive Officer – Teardrop Hotels

Teardrop Hotel’s Community & Social Responsibility (CSR) Activities:

  • Every property donates a percentage of revenue to the Teardrop CARE fund that supports local communities. Teardrop Hotels CARE (Creating A Rewarding Experience) is the charitable foundation set up to give back to the communities they work in. These range from providing food, medicine, reading glasses and stationery to local low income families as well as help mend a nearby temple roof, equip the playground at a primary school and sponsor 3 children with disabilities through a special needs centre (Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities Limited). They have strong ties to a local orphanage and are helping some of the older children find work, with 1 currently being trained to work at the Wallawwa boutique.
  • They are single use plastic free where possible in all properties. This involves using brown paper bags, metal straws, glass bottles etc
  • Part of the "Refill not Landfill" campaign. All rooms have refillable filtered water bottles.
  • Regular beach and estate road clean ups
  • Many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used in their freshly cooked meals are harvested daily from their kitchen gardens.

Teardrop CSR Activities in 2019

  • Fort Bazaar: Sambodhi is a charity home offering care and accommodation to more than 45 individuals with disabilities ranging from mild to serious intellectual and physical disabilities. They rely heavily on charity and funding to sustain themselves. The team helped by cleaning and beautifying the garden, dining, and residential areas, and provided dry rations for their daily needs.
  • Wallawwa: Vegetables and fruits from the garden, as well as dry rations were donated to a family in the nearby village. The family consists of 3 children, 1 of whom has Down Syndrome, and the mother is the sole breadwinner of the family.
  • Kumu Beach: Cleaned the beach in front of the hotel as well as the nearby canal and collected over 35kg of plastic over a period of one week. Regular beach cleaning when required.
  • At the Teardrop bungalows - Goatfell, Nine Skies and Camellia Hills : their teams have participated in litter picking in their local areas, have set up waste segregation bins and donated vegetables from their gardens to local estate workers who have found it difficult to support their families.

Collaborative Partner News:

Dr. Gopi Kitnasamy – Head of Rehabilitation Services at MJF Charitable Foundation https://www.mjffoundation.org/ and founder of Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation http://cplanka.org/ has been a great supporter of our mission. He and his team have conducted health clinics, wheelchair donation, rehabilitation & training camps for VACD children and parents and has agreed to train our new specialist assistant teacher recruits. Dr. Gopi is in the process of establishing mobile clinics that will make regular visits to rural areas so that they can alleviate difficulties encountered by impoverished parents who do not have the means or the resources to bring their disabled children for regular visits to hospital clinics.

On 6th July, MJF Charitable Foundation launched the first trilingual online channel for disability https://www.mjffoundation.org/news-events/news/mjf-foundation-launches-first-tri-lingual-online-channel-on-disability--584n.html on YouTube. The YouTube platform is an effective way to reach families who do not have access to support. DR. Kitnasamy’ s press interview on early childhood intervention can be found on: https://www.mjffoundation.org/news-events/news/empower-differently-abled-children-with-early-treatment--361a.html

In the spirit of true and meaningful collaboration, the VACD Australia board approved the participation of our VACD Board Member Ms. Gabriella (Gabi) Vascotto (pictured below left) and VACD Fellow - Mrs. Sabena Peterson (pictured below right) to work with Dr. Gopi and his team on programs they implement in Sri Lanka.

Gabi Vascotto is a Bachelor in Special Education, a visiting consultant to VACD in Sri Lanka since October 2012 and a VACD Australia board member. She is presently a learning consultant Autism/Behaviour and Supported Playgroup Project Consultant for Catholic Education in Melbourne, Australia.

Sabena is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist who graduated from the University of Sydney in 2008 with a Bachelor of Applied Science (speech path.) and commenced working with the NSW government in 2009 to provide therapy services to people with disabilities. Sabena’s clients come from varying cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds with whom she skilfully traverses issues of poverty, substance abuse, housing, child protection, neglect, and other challenges. She is currently a Senior Speech Pathologist with the NSW government.

We are grateful to these two ladies for volunteering their pro bono services!

VACD Australia Chairman’s 2019/20 Report to the Board:

My above report can be found on the following link:
https://www.vacd.org.au/index.php/projects/projects-news-updates/2020/annual-report-2019-2020

Opening a VACD Centre in Welimada

Once we establish our new centre in Welimada in February 2021, we will be looking to open our next VACD centre in either Wellawaya or Mahiyangana in the Uva province where the number of children with congenital impairments is known to be significantly high.

Address the Teacher/Student Ratio Imbalance

Based on the number of children who attend our centres, it became clear to us that our centres would require an addition of two assistant teachers. Arrangements are being made to recruit suitable candidates for these posts and offer them hands-on training and coaching.

Train Families in Small Scale Agriculture, Poultry Keeping and Animal Husbandry

Plans are under way to train our children and their parents in growing food for their own consumption in their home gardens and also in VACD centre premises, in a sustainable and organic manner, and in animal husbandry, poultry and bee keeping. Parents can make this an avenue for household income generation once they specialise in these ventures. Initial support has been offered to us by the Teardrop Hotels team.

Early Childhood/Supported Playgroup Program

We intend introducing early childhood & supported playgroup programs in all our centres to pre-schoolers and parents. Dr. Gopi from MJF Charitable Foundation and our very own Ms. Gabriella Vascotto are strong advocates of this program. We will ensure that our specialist teachers are well trained in this aspect and that sufficient parental, community and medical specialist support is generated to make this program a success.

Training Parents, Children and Young VACD Members

We will be conducting special training in leadership & management, hospitality, and ticketing, Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and computer skills, income generating opportunities and conducting frequent workshops and health and rehabilitation camps for our children and Young VACD members. Parents and children will receive vocational and skills training at our centres and at the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) , our collaborative partners in Bandarawela.

Collaborative Partners

We plan to work closely with all our collaborative partners in Sri Lanka so that we can together reach our individual and collective goals for our respective institutions and beneficiaries.

Thank You All Very Much!!

Your generosity and the commitment, dynamism and dedication of our teams have enabled us to achieve our objectives for children with disabilities and their families since we began our journey on 27th December 2011. We remain deeply appreciative of the support all of you have given us to sustain our mission and accomplish much over these past years.

We welcome you to be partners with us on this benevolent journey!

Please continue to support us in our efforts to uplift the lives of children who need your love, support and assistance, and reach out to us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Please also share this newsletter with your family, friends, loved ones and colleagues so that together we can make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities, one by one!!!

Many thanks, best wishes and warm regards…. Felix

Felix Stephen

Chairman of the Board of Directors - VACD Ltd. Sydney – Australia - http://www.vacd.org.au/
Member of the Advisory Board – VACD USA – http://www.vacdusa.org/
Member of the Advisory Board – VACD Sri Lanka
Senior Associate – Cognoscenti Group – Sydney – Australia- http://www.cognoscenti.global/
Consultant - Investment Committee - Lonsec - Sydney – Australia - https://www.lonsec.com.au/
Member of Investment Committee - Arrive Wealth Management - Brisbane – Australia - http://brisbane.arrivewealthmanagement.com.au/
Consultant - Global Financial Market Investment Research & Investment Strategy
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.