July 2018 Newsletter
July 31, 2018

We congratulate of our VACD children:

We are thrilled and delighted to congratulate our VACD Children who won the following awards at the Inter-Divisional Disabled Athletic Championships held on Saturday, 30th June at the Vinston Dias stadium in Badulla, Sri Lanka.

Left to right: Avishka Imesh Kumara (1st – Putt Shot, 1st 100m – Under 15 years), Malki Nimasha (1st Long-Jump, 2nd 100m, 2nd Discuss – over 15 years), Arulanadan Sujidaran (2nd 100m – under 15 years). Avishka Kumara and Malki Nimasha will now compete at the national competition to be held in Colombo. 

Addition to our VACD Sri Lanka teaching staff:

We have secured the services of Ms. Manjula Wijesinghe (specialist education teacher) to complement the existing team of teaching staff made up of one specialist teacher, one dancing teacher, one sewing and handicraft instructor and two volunteer computer instructors who report to Mrs. Nandawathie Ranaweera – VACD’s Director of Education and Training.  The new teacher will have additional responsibilities to coordinate our rehabilitation programs with the department of social services and paediatricians at government hospitals located in Diyatalawa, Bandarawela, Welimada and Badulla. 

Clockwise: 1) Ms. Manjula Wijesinghe, Mrs. Nandawathie Ranaweera and Mrs. Shiyama Chamini. 2) Ms. Ruth Dilshani Coulton – Volunteer Computer instructor with a child. 3) VACD Bandarawela Classroom. 4) Mr. Franklin Deniston Benedict – Volunteer Computer instructor with a VACD child.

VACD/MCSL Collaborative Partnership update:

The VACD Board decided not to persist with the proposed joint venture with the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka and opted instead for a less complicated way to accomplish our “out-reach” program to establish VACD centres in the townships of Welimada and Badulla. We are presently engaged in discussions on securing sponsorship and a suitable building for the Welimada centre followed by a similar plan for the Badulla centre.

Naming of the main VACD centre in Bandarawela:

The VACD Board unanimously moved a resolution to offer Mr. William. R.H. Clark (a close family friend and a senior international banking and financial market professional) the opportunity to name the main VACD centre in Bandarawela in honour of his late father, Sir Robert Clark, who according to William taught him to “give”.  William has supported VACD since its inception, has been the single largest individual financial donor to our mission and made a large donation towards our VACD/MCSL fund raising campaign. The VACD board were unwavering in their resolve to honour and uphold our fund-raising campaign pledge and to place on record our deep appreciation of Mr. William Clark’s support.

You can find more information on Sir Robert Clark on the following links: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9786270/Sir-Robert-Clark.html and https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/sir-robert-clark-decorated-war-hero-who-went-on-to-build-a-glittering-career-in-the-city-8443185.html

Tim Clark, Sir Robert’s son (lawyer and senior partner at Slaughter and May until his retirement and now on the board of the charity “Water” and a director of the National Theatre in London) and his friend Nick Cook have co-authored a book titled “Monopoli Blues” that was launched in London in a fortnight ago on how Sir Robert and his wife Marjorie participated in special forces operations in Italy. A soft copy version is available in Kindle at Amazon.co.UK while the hard copy version will be available in September this year. A short video review of the book can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r6HNwE8Xn4

The board also reiterated its pledge to grant naming opportunities to sponsors/donors of the proposed Welimada and Badulla centres under comparable circumstances.

Sad news – Passing away of Mrs. Sarfun Niza Niyas (nee Khan):

It is with profound sadness and deep loss that we inform you that our dear friend Mrs. Sarfun Niza Niyas (nee Khan) who I have known since we were teenagers passed away on Wednesday, 20th June, in Bandarawela, Sri Lanka. Sarfun was a founder and board member of VACD Sri Lanka, a pillar of strength and a source of inspiration to the VACD team, did a lot to promote our mission and was a committed philanthropist who helped the disadvantaged in the community. She was very fond of Yasmin my wife and our family. Her passing away is a terrible personal loss to ourselves and our mission. We will always remember Sarfun and her bubbly and joyful personality with love and affection. 

Mrs. Sarfun Niyas is the third from the right in the front row (group photo taken after the VACD Sri Lanka AGM in March 2018)

Great news – Global Impact Initiative !!!:

Our very own, globe-trotting Sri Lankan, VACD Australia Director & Secretary, Mr. Giles Gunesekera (giles@globalimpactinitiative.com.au) was once more on a plane visiting interesting places and meeting with remarkable people.

His business, Global Impact Initiative (www.globalimpactinitiative.com.au)

creates bespoke impact investing strategies for family offices, foundations and pensions funds. These strategies have a dual purpose – financial return and social impact. He works within a range of some remarkable impact areas covering Women and Girls, Renewable Energy, The Arts, Affordable Housing and Indigenous communities. 

Left photo: Giles with our VACD USA Treasurer Rasika Padmaperuma in Washington DC, Centre:  Giles with Professor Lalit Johri and Mr. Bafana Kubedi at Oxford University and right: Giles with Prof. Muhammad Yunus in Bangalore.

In May, he was in the US where he met our VACD USA Treasurer, Mr. Rasika Padmaperuma in Washington DC. Rasika is the CFO of FHI360, a wonderful NGO that has 4000 staff and operates in 35 countries. In June, Giles attended his Alumni weekend at Oxford University which he believes changed his career path. The books that made him think differently and launch him on his journey of self-discovery and well-defined mission in life were by Professor Yunus: “Social Business” and “Banker to the Poor”. He was able to test his thesis and theories at the University of Oxford with an amazing cohort of talented and gifted people and wonderful mentors. This experience gave him the courage to establish his entrepreneurial business and to solicit and deploy investment capital for social good.

In June Giles was honoured to present at Grameen’s Social Business Day in Bangalore on “Corporates in Social Business”. This was a gathering of over 1000 people from 40 countries. He launched his innovative Women and Girls’ Fund alongside one of their trusted partners Grameen and Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus who has changed the lives of millions of people around the world through innovative social business practices.

We are fortunate to have Giles and many others like him on our team who have an insatiable passion to uplift the less fortunate and downtrodden people in our society and to dedicate and devote their time, skills, money and energies to fulfil VACD’s vision and mission.

Please 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.

Our sincere thanks to all of you for your continued invaluable support, guidance, counselling and assistance and for being part of this incredible, challenging and immensely rewarding journey. Shall stay in close touch. 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: felixswstephen@gmail.com / fstephen@bigpond.net.au