VACD September 2020 Newsletter
September 30, 2020

“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.

United Nations Children’s Day celebrations at VACD

Our Sir Robert Clark Centre in Bandarawela and Dora Jeanne Centre in Badulla commemorated the United Nations Children’s day on Thursday, 1st October with our children, their families, staff, and friends in attendance and participating in the celebrations.

In Bandarawela celebrations were held at the VACD centre (pictured above) while the Badulla centre opted to do an excursion by train (pictured below), with some children experiencing a train trip for the very first time in their lives.

Nutrition Program update

We are delighted to inform you that our specialist teachers on their own initiative have successfully combined our nutrition program with life skills training for our children with congenital impairments.

The nutrition program was introduced by us when a visiting health inspector observed that our children were suffering from malnutrition due to their disadvantaged household financial conditions and advised us to take appropriate action to remedy the situation. We began providing our children with a nutritious meal on one day during each week, which has now been extended to a nutritious meal every day of the week.

Our specialist teachers accompany children selected on a rotation basis daily to buy the day’s groceries. The children are given funds and a list of items to be purchased for the day’s lunch. Given the risks involved, the children are closely supervised and are under the constant watchful eyes of the teachers during the entire process. Lunch is later prepared by the children under the supervision of the teachers, served in a buffet style, and enjoyed by all the children. The entire process provides vital education for our children because our aim is to make them independent, self-reliant, confident, and able to care for themselves in the future.

We are delighted that Mr. Annesley Caspersz (pictured below) from Melbourne, Australia (who visited our Bandarawela centre in December 2017) kicked off our Nutrition Program by providing monthly financial support – Thank you very much Dear Annesley!

This program needs your generous support to be successfully sustained at our two existing centres and the proposed new centre in Welimada.

VACD Collaborative Partner news:

Our collaborative partners MJF Charity Foundation in Sri Lanka and Millennium IT, with partners Microsoft, Sarva and World Vision Lanka launched disABILITY – an innovative Teletherapy app designed to support children with disabilities and their families, by connecting them to expert guidance. The app complements the MJF Foundation’s disability advice channel on YouTube in reaching children and people with disabilities in remote parts of Sri Lanka. The full report can be found on:

The broader VACD Structure & Teams:

Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities (VACD) are based in Australia, Sri Lanka, and the USA. We are bound by our shared goal to help and uplift children with congenital impairments and their families in Sri Lanka overcome countless hardships and challenges.

The three missions operate as autonomous, legally constituted and separate benevolent bodies that are independently administered by their respective boards, registered with their respective national/local oversight authorities and report, operate and function under the legal framework and statutory guidelines/jurisdiction of the domiciled state/country. The VACD operating model is shows below:

The VACD Operating Model:

VACD Team member news: – Mr. Giles Gunesekera

The resourcefulness, creativity and passion of Mr. Giles Gunesekera – Director and Secretary VACD Australia who established Global Impact Initiative (GII) was recognised in September by the United Nations as one of the top 40 companies in the world. GII creates Impact Investments – investments with the dual purpose of creating positive financial returns and measurable and intentional social impact. His business operates globally under five key pillars of Gender Equality, Indigenous Communities, Health, Affordable Housing and Climate.

Below is one of the very first VACD Australia Board meetings : Standing: Greg Fendler (left) and James Meighan (right), Seated: left to right- Yasmin Stephen , self, Andrew Hayden, and Giles Gunesekera

The United Nations Global Compact is the largest Sustainability organisation in the world with over 15,000 corporate members. GII has been recognised for their innovative work in pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Giles also sits on UN Advisory Boards for Climate and Health and Sustainable Finance. GII is the ONLY Australian company on this list and one of only seven companies in Asia.

We applaud Global Impact Initiative for their efforts to make the world a better place, congratulate Giles and his team on their success and wish them the absolute best.

VACD Team member news: – Mr. Mikhail Sookoor

Mr. Mikhail Sookoor is a Board Director at VACD USA. “ Elephant Foot Design” was established by him because of his passion for craft and design. He has since launched a line of developmental toys for toddlers for which the inspiration was toys used in the Montessori method where his mother, sister in-law and aunt are teachers. Currently a ball tracker, toddler pull-up bar & walking pushcart are offered via the Etsy online sales platform. More items are currently being developed and designed and will be made available on the Etsy website. Please visit to shop with free delivery in the US & on Instagram for the latest updates on products.

Our upcoming Projects & Programs:

  • Address the Teacher/Student Ratio Imbalance by recruiting staff and providing them with specialist training commencing November 2020/January 2021. Providing ongoing training to all specialist staff with the help of our collaborative partners.
  • Conducting workshops in leadership and awareness training for parents, leadership and vocational training for VACD
  • children and Young VACD Members and mission advocacy training for all groups 2020/2021 Opening the VACD Centre in Welimada/Uva Paranagama in February 2021
  • Relocating our VACD Badulla centre – February 2021
  • Train Families in Small Scale Agriculture, Poultry Keeping and Animal Husbandry – 2020/2021
  • Introducing Early Childhood/Supported Playgroup Program – 2021

Tax deductible donations can be made to VACD Australia in following ways:

  1. Via the VACD webpage: where you can make regular or ad hoc donations via your credit card, PayPal, electronic transfers, or a direct deposit.
  2. Via Good Company: (Workplace giving) where you can make regular or ad hoc donations that will be matched by your participating employer.
  3. Via the VACD Bank account: (cash, cheque, or online electronic/ direct deposits)
    Name of account: Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities Limited
    Bank: Commonwealth Bank of Australia
    Branch: Cnr of Liverpool & Castlereagh Streets, Sydney NSW 2000
    Account No: 1130 2156
    BSB: 062-016

Donations in Sri Lanka rupees can be made via the VACD Sri Lanka bank account as follows:

Name of account: Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities Private Limited

Bank: Seylan Bank

Branch: 240 Badulla Road, Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

Account No: 046035439722001

A big “Thank You” to all of you…

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: or visit us at: 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 –

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

E-mail: /