VACD Australia January 2022 Newsletter
February 01, 2022

Dear friends, colleagues, supporters, and collaborative partners,

We take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones the absolute best during 2022 and over the coming years and look forward to your journey with us to support and sustain children with congenital impairments and their families in Sri Lanka.

Inspiring News!!!

VACD marked its 10th anniversary since it was established in the township of Bandarawela in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka on 27th December 2011. We warmly recollect and earnestly appreciate the support, guidance and counselling you have given over the past decade to remain steadfastly focused and committed to our pledged mission, notwithstanding many challenges.

VACD Progress Report:

Activity at VACD Sri Lanka remained comparatively subdued due to the pandemic from mid-2020 onwards. However, our Sri Lanka leadership team managed to recruit and train specialist teachers for our Bandarawela, Badulla and the proposed Welimada centres, reviewed our Educational Assistance Program (EAP), continued to support financially stressed families, organised low key religious, cultural, and social events and continued to conduct education sessions for our children during lockdowns by instituting home-schooling.

The above photos show the VACD Sri Lanka Education Assistance Program (EAP) board oversight committee evaluating EAP beneficiary progress and scrutinising their expense submissions.

The latest recruitment of a new batch of specialist teaching staff completes our recruitment drive to staff each VACD centre with a head teacher, two assistants and one caretaker, with an assistant teacher at the Bandarawela centre providing part-time assistance to our office administrator. 

The above photos show our new specialist teacher trainees receiving theoretical training provided by our lead specialist teacher Mrs. Manjula Wijesinghe, followed by practical training with our children at our Sir Robert Clark centre in Bandarawela. These trainees will also receive practical training at our Dora Jeanne centre in Badulla.

The Lions Club of Badulla sponsored and held Christmas celebrations at our Dora Jeanne centre in Badulla for our children and staff as shown in the group photo below.

The photos below show children and staff at our Sir Robert Clark centre in Bandarawela enjoying their end of year celebrations: 

Projects & Programs in 2022:

The following are our planned projects and programs for 2022:

Acquiring Resources: Replacing existing unsuitable furniture with custom designed specialist furniture recommended for children with disabilities, replacing damaged physical and vocational training equipment, acquiring new musical instruments and audiovisual equipment for dance & music training essential for children with special needs and procuring  equipment required for public awareness campaigns, seminars, health clinics and educational workshops. 

Training & Awareness: Conducting educational, health, skills & vocational training and family, and community awareness programs in remote rural and key urban areas in the Uva Province with the assistance of the local provincial, education, social, health, probation & child welfare administrative authorities and local community and religious leaders. These sessions will be conducted by experts and specialists who have already pledged their services to us on a pro bono basis. Additionally, we will introduce household income generating activities with the assistance of local experts and home gardening with the assistance of Teardrop Hotels.

Training for Parents & Young VACD members: Conducting skills, vocational, leadership, computer literacy and other critical career development training for our Young VACD members and leadership and income generating opportunities for parents of our VACD children in Badulla, Bandarawela and Welimada. 

Health & Rehabilitation: Conducting quarterly health and rehabilitation camps in Badulla. Bandarawela and Welimada with the assistance of Dr. Gopi Kitnasamy – Head of Rehabilitation Services at MJF Charitable Foundation

Educator Training: Our new specialist teacher recruits to be sent to the National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders at Rajagiriya (Colombo) and Ayati Centre in Ragama (outer Colombo) for practical specialist training. 

Early Intervention: Introducing early identification and intervention programs at all our centres under a “Supported Playgroup model”  for young children presenting developmental concerns. Facilitate access to specialist support and encourage local community and other allied services to participate in this project. This program will be introduced at our centres by our VACD Australia Director – Ms Gabi 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.

Sponsors and Collaborative Partner News:

Teardrop Hotels Lunuganga Country Estate: 

Read about legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa’s iconic  Lunuganga country estate, the latest addition to the Teardrop collection and their special offers across their unique Teardrop boutique Hotel facilities in Sri Lanka via the following hyperlink: and 

VACD USA Update:

VACD Australia and VACD USA mutually agreed to cease ongoing operations at VACD USA. The process of closing the mission is presently underway. While regrettable, ongoing admin and compliance costs and the VACD USA team not being able to devote more of their time and resources towards our mission was recognized. Under these circumstances, ceasing ongoing operations was deemed to be the most practical and appropriate course of action.

Nevertheless, we have very gratefully received support in the form of donations, advice etc. from our network of friends and family living in the USA over the past years and trust that such support will continue directly and via our VACD Australia website:

While thanking Mr. Rasika Padmaperuma – President VACD USA and his team for holding the fort for us over the past years, our VACD Australia and VACD Sri Lanka colleagues together with my wife Yasmin and I wish to place on record our deep appreciation and profound thanks to Mr. James Gruver (Founder VACD USA) , Mrs. Marrianne Gruver, Mr. Frank Fendler, Mrs. Ellie Fender, Mr. Greg Fendler and Mrs. Jenny Fendler for their time, resources and substantial personal finances deployed over many years to make this endeavour a success.  Our sincere and profound thanks also to our dear, caring and loving long-time friends and family who agreed to serve on the VACD USA Board because they believed in our mission and what it stood for – we sincerely hope they continue to do so into the future.

Our Fundraising Campaign:

The earlier estimated cost of our initiatives for 2022 was approximately  A$ 50,000 or US$ 36,000. However, latest estimates place costs around A$ 60,000 or US$ 452,000. Our fund-raising campaign is ‘live’ and will remain so until we reach our funding target. The campaign slide deck can be viewed on the following hyperlink:

Please support our mission by donating via:

Flag of Australia - Wikipedia

Donations in Australian Dollars (tax deductible for Australian taxpayers) can be made via: by credit card, PayPal & direct deposits while cash, cheque or direct transfers can be made 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

Branch No: 062-016


File:Flag of Sri Lanka.svg - Wikimedia Commons

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

SWIFT Code: SEYBLKLX Bank Code: 7287 Branch Code: 46

  Good Company: (Workplace giving)

where Australia based donors can make pre-tax regular or ad hoc donations that will be matched by participating employers.

Good2Give (Workplace giving) where Australia based donors can make pre-tax regular or ad hoc donations that will be matched by participating employers.


    VACD is now on the Benevity Causes Global donation platform: and our registration number is: 8065017016

This portal has facilities for workplace and matching workplace giving. You can search for VACD by entering our name (Volunteers to Assist Children with Disabilities) or our registered charity number 8065017016 in the search bar of the Benevity workplace giving program portal. 

A big “Thank You” to all of you…

Your generosity and the commitment of our VACD colleagues 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 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 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 –