VACD Australia September 2021 Newsletter
September 22, 2021

Dear friends, colleagues, supporters, and collaborative partners,

Trust this finds you and your loved ones safe and well notwithstanding numerous challenges and uncertainties that all of us have had to encounter and overcome over the past 17+ months. 

Delightful News!!!

We are thrilled to announce that Golden Tree Asset Management undertook to sponsor and support VACD projects and programs over the next two years. Their support is well-timed and greatly appreciated as our global fund-raising campaign to re-furnish and re-equip our VACD centres costing approximately US$ 36,000 is now ‘live’ (detailed below):

Golden Tree was founded in the United Sates in 2000, has over 250 employees, is 100% employee-owned and has offices located in New York, West Palm Beach, London, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Dublin. 

They are one of the largest independent global credit asset managers with over $46 billion in assets under management across a broad spectrum of alternative and fixed income strategies within the credit universe in sectors such as high yield bonds, leveraged loans, distressed, structured products, emerging markets, and credit-themed equities.  

You can find more information on GoldenTree on their website: 

VACD Australia & USA Fund raising campaign:

The VACD Australia board decided to revamp facilities provided at our VACD centers to ensure that all our centres were adequately equipped and complied with national and international Occupational Health and Safety standards (OH&S).

We are in the process of replacing existing unsuitable/second-hand furniture and equipment with custom built specialised desks and chairs appropriate for children with congenital impairments, new physical and vocational training equipment, musical instruments, audiovisual equipment for dance/music training that can also be used in our public awareness, advocacy programs, education and training seminars, workshops for parents, families and Young VACD Club members, and at our health & rehabilitation clinics for children and their families. The estimated cost of this project is A$ 50,000 or US$ 36,000. Our fund-raising campaign is now ‘live’ and will remain so until we reach our funds target. Our campaign slide deck can be viewed on the following hyperlink:

VACD Australia Annual General Meeting 2021

The VACD 2021 AGM was held on Tuesday, 7th September and we agreed to focus our attention and deploy our resources on the following ten (10) programs and projects (in no particular order of priority) during the Australian financial year July 2021 to June 2022

  1. Establish our VACD Welimada centre no sooner suitable premises are found.
  2. Hire 6 additional staff (1 Assistant Teacher for the Badulla centre, 1 Admin Assistant/ Teaching Assistant for the Bandarawela centre and 3 Teaching staff and 1 caretaker for the Welimada centre).
  3. Participate in a COVID19 vaccination drive for children with disabilities in the Uva province in collaboration with the MJF Charitable Foundation and with assistance from  the Uva Provincial Ministries and Health Authorities.
  4. Accelerate our outreach program and conduct community awareness seminars and workshops in rural areas across the Uva Province with the assistance of the Uva Health and other relevant Provincial Ministries and local government authorities.
  5. Conduct quarterly health clinics, leadership skills, computer and Excel training, motivational and vocational training etc. for VACD children and their siblings, young VACD club members and VACD parents with the assistance of recognized specialists who have already pledged their pro bono services to VACD, at our VACD centres and in key townships across the Uva province.
  6. Promote home gardening, poultry, animal husbandry, beekeeping  and other income generating opportunities to VACD parents in collaboration with Teardrop Hotels and other local & provincial government agencies/specialists.
  7. Purchase new equipment and custom designed furniture for all our VACD centres.  
  8. Continue with our fund-raising drive via all avenues open to VACD until we reach the estimated target of  A$ 50k or US$ 36k.
  9. Review and expand our Educational Assistance Program (EAP) and our Family Assistance Program (FAP) to mitigate intensified challenges and hardships faced by our VACD children and their families due to COVID19 repercussions without compromising any eligibility criteria.
  10. Introduce our early childhood supported playgroup program at our VACD centres when it’s convenient for our VACD Australia Director Ms. Gabriella Vascotto (Bachelor Special Education, Visiting Consultant to VACD schools in Sri Lanka, Learning Consultant Autism/Behaviour and Supported Playgroup Project Consultant for Catholic Education Melbourne- Victoria) to travel to Sri Lanka.

Sorrowful News – (1)

Dr Tiraj Mendis – Consultant Paediatrician at the Diyatalawa Base Hospital passed away peacefully on Friday, 3rd September 2021 at the age of 55 leaving behind his loving wife Nuala and children Geethika,​ Nushane & Thasun. 

​Tiraj, an old boy of Royal College, Colombo was accepted into the University of Maryland, USA where he graduated with a degree in science after which he joined the Medical College in Colombo and obtained his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery degree) and  MD (Doctor of Medicine) in Sri Lanka. He then did a post graduate degree as a Specialist General Physician & Specialist Paediatrician & Child Health in London.

Tiraj was a humble, gentle, truly loving and caring person who used his gifts, talents, and skills to help the needy and the impoverished. He was an exceptionally talented pianist from an early age, was an organist and vocalist with deep spiritual, social, moral, and family values. 

Above photo: Taken in Bandarawela during our VACD tour of Sri Lanka in 2019: left to right: Yasmin, Felix, Dr. Chaminda Liyanage (Consultant Paediatrician Base Hospital Welimada), Mrs. Nuala Mendis, Dr. Tiraj Mendis (Consultant Paediatrician Welimada, Badulla and Diyatalawa), Col. Kumarasinghe  -Secretary VACD Sri Lanka and Mrs. Hemali Kumarasinghe.   

Tiraj was a very close family friend who was an advocate and strong supporter of our mission.

He was responsible for initiating visits to our VACD centres by government medical specialists so that this arrangement would eliminate many inconveniences and difficulties encountered by VACD parents when they had to take their children to hospital for clinical observations and medication.

Photo below: Dr. Tiraj Mendis on a visit to VACD Badulla centre in 2019 when he was Consultant Paediatrician at Provincial General Hospital Badulla conducting interviews and examining health records of our VACD children with their parents.   

Sorrowful News – (2)

Veteran musician and music legend Sunil Perera (Ivor Sylvester Sunil Perera – 14th September 1952 – 6th September 2021 passed away peacefully at the age of 68 having dominated the music and entertainment arena in Sri Lanka for over 50 years.

Sunil was the leader of the internationally famed music group “Gypsies” who captured both young and old audiences with their unique style of music and lyrics. Sunil was a talented and gifted musician, vocalist, songwriter, composer, and a born entertainer.

He was a larger-than-life, big-hearted, and gifted personality greatly loved by people in all walks of life for his forthrightness, love for the downtrodden, humility, generosity, and unique sense of humor.

Sunil was a great but discreet philanthropist and humanitarian who funded and supported many charities and foundations while also privately supporting many individuals and families who were in need of basic economic and other forms of assistance.

He was a loving, caring, and close friend of Yasmin my wife and myself for many years and a great supporter and advocate of VACD, our mission for children with disabilities in Sri Lanka.  

Photos Below:

Yasmin, Sunil, and I during our VACD Sri Lanka tour of 2018

Caricature of Sunil by Max Gerreyn – Our dear longtime family friend and former Bank of Ceylon, International Division Colombo Colleague.

Sponsors and Collaborative Partner News:

Two Leaves Trust:

We are delighted that a wheelchair donated by our collaborative partner MJF Charitable Foundation to the Two Leaves Trust in Haldummulla via VACD is being put to good use by the staff at the home for the elderly in Haldumulla.

Teardrop Hotels, Sri Lanka:

As Sri Lanka opens its borders to international tourism, Teardrop Hotels offer you a unique opportunity to stay in small, private, professionally managed properties that work in harmony with the environment and local communities.

Teardrop Hotels are committed to ensuring that they are good neighbours, employers, and hoteliers, while advocating sustainability of the environment and upholding and promoting social, ethical, and cultural values as part of their core philosophies.

Hospitality is an industry that relies on people taking care of other people. Teardrop Hotels have always excelled in this aspect of their service commitment. They have elevated health, hygiene, and safety measures across all their properties to a higher level so that their guests can safely and in comfort enjoy their exceptional brand of hospitality and facilities, tour historic and cultural places of interest, enjoy the local cuisine and absorb what each unique location has on offer. Guests, staff, and local communities remain the number one priority of Teardrop Hotels. For more information, please visit or

Please continue to support our mission by donating via:

Donations in Australian Dollars (tax deductible for Australian taxpayers) can be made via: by credit card, PayPal & direct deposits. 

Donations in Australian Dollars (tax deductible for Australian taxpayers) can be made in cash, cheque, or direct transfers to: 

The VACD Australia Bank account: 

Account Name: 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 US Dollars (tax deductible for USA Taxpayers) by cheque to:

The Treasurer,

Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities Limited (USA) Inc.

No: 629, Vermont Street,

Westfield NJ 07090, USA

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 of our VACD colleagues have enabled us to achieve many of 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 from each and every one of you to sustain our mission and accomplish much for our children and their families over the past years. Our journey is bound to be long and challenging given the sheer number of children and families we need to care for who need your love, compassion, and support.

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

Please reach out to us at: or visit us at: and please do 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 warmest 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

Member of the Advisory Board – Two leaves Foundation Sri Lanka

Senior Associate – Cognoscenti Group – Sydney – Australia- 

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