November 2018 VACD Newsletter
November 30, 2018

Wonderful News!!! – Inauguration of “The Young VACD Members’ Club”:

On Saturday, 10th November VACD reached another high point when the “Young VACD Members’ Club” (YVMC) was officially inaugurated in Bandarawela. This group of 40+ enthusiastic founder members are made up of siblings of VACD children with disabilities and their friends. We view this as a great opportunity for us to identify and groom future leaders for our mission.

The team set up a members’ What”App group on the day, will very soon launch their very own Facebook page, and meet once every quarter while the executive meets once every month. Members will be offered tourism and hospitality training (thanks to our collaborative partners Arpico Ataraxia) and undergo leadership training. The Young VACD members will play an active role in the upcoming procession to mark ‘UN Day for Disabled Persons’ on Sunday, 2nd December in Bandarawela, and are planning to launch a blood donation campaign on 27th December in Bandarawela, Sri mark the 7th anniversary of the founding of VACD.

Photos: (Clockwise) – 1) Colonel Kumarasinghe – Secretary VACD Sri Lanka, Mrs Prabha Karunarathne – Deputy Chairperson VACD Sri Lanka & Mr Sujeeva Abeynayaka – Asst, Secretary VACD Sri Lanka 2) Part of the Young VACD members club founder members’ group. 3) Colonel Kumarasinghe making his opening address to the group 4) Ms Thimani Wijesinghe Secretary YVMC addressing her colleagues 5) President – YVMC – Ms Sashika Madubhashani. (not in photos: Vice President YVMC Ms Hanna Ahamath & Ms R Sharmila Assistant Secretary YVMC)

We are delighted and highly impressed with our enterprising VACD Parents:

The microfinancing program that was introduced by the Regional Development Bank (RDB), Bandarawela branch as a pilot project in November 2015 under the auspices of VACD has proven to be an outstanding success.

A total of 20 parents were formed into 4 groups with each group having leaders who were responsible for their respective groups functioning efficiently, generating enough income, servicing their loans and depositing profits into designated savings accounts.

A total of Sri Lanka Rupees 875,000 (approximately A$ 7,200) was lent by the RDB to these 20 parents at the commencement of this program, of which Rupees 200,000 has since been paid back in full by 4 parents, total loans outstanding as at end of September 2018 was Rupees 495,201 and the group has since generated a total of Rupees 644,224 in savings (approximately A$ 5,300).

Microfinance was provided to our parents for tea, pepper, fruit and flower cultivation, starting convenience stores, clothing business, catering & tailoring services and ice cream making.

We are proud of our VACD Children:

Our VACD children have excelled in various disciplines at the 2018 Art Festival Competition in the Badulla district conducted by the Department of Social Services. They are now qualified to perform at the upcoming provincial competition in girls solo classical singing, girls solo folk singing, boys solo classical dancing, boys group folk dancing and girls group modern dancing. More detailed news on these achievements will be shared with you in our December newsletter.

Upcoming 2019 Projects & Programs:

  1. Capacity Expansion: Having secured funds through our recent fund-raising campaign, we are ready to open VACD centres in the townships of Welimada and Badulla where there is an extremely high concentration of disabled children. Most of these children come from single parent/single income families where the sole breadwinner is a low skilled labourer or subsistence farmer, financially stressed, with no means to take their child to a hospital for treatment and reliant on the maternal grandparents to care for the child during the day. Funds raised are being held in reserve and will be deployed no sooner we have secured suitable premises.
  2. Home-based therapy & Treatment: Children with disabilities are an economic and social burden on impoverished parents who lack the means or resources to take their children for regular clinical observations, intervention and treatment.

    While our capacity expansion program addresses some of the difficulties faced by disabled children and their parents, we believe that home-based therapy and intervention offered to VACD by our collaborative partners Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation led by Dr Gopi Kitnasamy – Founder/Chairman, is the way forward. Home-based therapy is being implemented widely in many developing countries around the world because of its unique capability to reach and help underprivileged communities in remote regions.
    We plan on conducting regular home-based therapy workshops that will assess children with disabilities who are unable to access rehabilitation, special education, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy or communication therapy in government hospitals or clinics.

    This program will enable Dr Gopi and his team to establish parent to parent support groups, perform comprehensive medical assessment of the child, provision of free wheelchairs if required, schedule meetings to encourage the extended family of the child to participate in the child’s progress, empower parents by training them to effectively overcome challenges they face in caring and providing for their child, playing a more proactive role in the child’s program and in handling societal pressures, home-based therapy, home-based care, posture, feeding and sleeping techniques etc., Paper-Based technology to make inexpensive but sturdy furniture for their disabled children and basic health, nutrition and easy to cook meal education.

Message from Mr Greg Fendler – Director & Member of the VACD Board – Australia:

The VACD Welimada centre will be named “Dora Jeanne Centre for Children with Disabilities” in appreciation and recognition of the substantial financial support and guidance provided to VACD by Mr Greg Fendler – (VACD Australia Director & Board member), his family and his father Mr Frank Fendler – (VACD USA Board member).

Note: (Dora – “God’s Gift” in Greek and Jeanne – “God is Gracious” in French) is the older sibling of Greg.

Left to right: The Fendler Family, Greg, Jenny and their family, Frank, Ellie and Dora Jeanne

“It’s a great honour to be a part of the VACD family and the great work that is being done for disadvantaged children with disabilities in Sri Lanka.  It’s also a great joy to have the chance to honour my older sister Dora Jeanne Fendler (“Dori”) by naming the new VACD centre to be established in Welimada after her.  Dori despite being born with Downs Syndrome has been a constant encouragement in my life, the life of my family and in the lives of so many of our family friends.   So, it is fitting that her name be on a new centre in Welimada, which I’m sure will bring great encouragement to the children of that area with disabilities and their families as well! Blessings, Greg”

A “special” Thank you!!!:

We wish to place on record our deep appreciation for iconic landscape photographs of Sri Lanka that have been provided free of charge to us over the past years to be used in our Xmas and seasonal greetings by Mr Cecil Perera. Cecil first published his coffee table book “Sri Lanka – A Mystical Journey” and has since stretched his repertoire through his sequel to this edition. Please visit his Instagram website to view some of his outstanding contributions to the world of photography that captures iconic landscapes and breathtaking scenes.

Cecil devoted more time towards his passion of capturing mother nature at her very best through his camera lens since his retirement from 40 years of commercial banking and now lives with his wife Pearl in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka. You will soon receive your VACD Xmas 2018 and New year 2019 greetings with one of Cecil’s iconic photos.

There are three specific areas that need your sponsorship and support:

  1. Family Assistance Program (FAP) – A$ 20 or equivalent per month;
  2. Educational Assistance Program (EAP) – A$ 20 or equivalent per month;
  3. Nutrition Program Initiative (NPI) – Flexible

Please reach out to us at should you decide to support/sponsor all or any of these initiatives.

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. 

Many thanks, best wishes and warm regards…. Felix

Felix Stephen

Chairman of the Board of Directors – VACD Ltd. Sydney – Australia –

Member of the Advisory Board – VACD USA –

Member of the Advisory Board – VACD Sri Lanka

Senior Associate – Cognoscenti Group – Sydney – Australia-

Consultant – Investment Committee – Lonsec – Sydney – Australia –

Member of Investment Committee – Arrive Wealth Management – Brisbane – Australia –

Consultant – Global Financial Market Investment Research & Investment Strategy

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