VACD Australia August/September 2023 Newsletter
October 22, 2023

Dear friends, colleagues, supporters, and collaborative partners,

Greetings to you, your families, loved ones, and colleagues from all of us at VACD.

VACD Sri Lanka Tour Highlights & Notes in Brief: 

After months of careful planning, Yasmin and I embarked on our self-funded official VACD tour of Sri Lanka in late September of which here are some of the key highlights:

  • Meeting with Mr. Himendra Ranaweera – Deputy Chairman, Ms Jayanga Wegodapola – Legal Officer and Mr. Subramanian Kamalanathan – Manager Operations – Merrill J Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF) to discuss VACD’s upcoming projects & programs and establish a Collaborative Partnership agreement between MJFCF and VACD, as per below:
  • Meeting with Mr. Henry Fitch – CEO, Ms Anoushka Boralessa- Head of Business Development & Sustainability and their Teardrop Island team. Teardrop are sponsors of  VACD’s “Teardrop CARE Centre for Children with Disabilities” located in Ambagasdowa. We discussed VACD’s ongoing and future projects and programs and Teardrop’s support and participation in these initiatives. 
  • Meeting with Ms Sharnileka Samarakoon – Centre Manager and Mr. Rajkaran Mahendran – Physiotherapist at MJFCF National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy & Other Developmental Disorders to update them of our new projects & programs and work out details relating to organizing quarterly Health and Rehabilitation camps in Uva and providing hands-on training for our special educators at their centres.
  • Meeting with Ms. Dilmini Madawela – Deputy General Manager Pharmaceutical Sector at Cargills (Ceylon) limited, to discuss VACD projects & programs and arrange for medication prescribed by Paediatricians to be made available through their island-wide pharmaceutical outlets at cost price to VACD which we will distribute free to our VACD children. Ms. Madawela also agreed to coordinate vocational training and eventual employment at their various Cargills outlets for our Young VACD Club members .
  • Meeting with Mr. Hiran Cooray – Chairman Jetwings Hotel Group to appraise him of our VACD mission and upcoming projects, and programs. Mr. Cooray very kindly and generously agreed to donate a prize for the raffle draw at VACD’s Melbourne Chapter inauguration function . 
  • Meeting with Ms Sophie Gordon – Second Secretary Development at the Australian High Commission in Colombo to update the Australian mission in Sri Lanka of our own mission and ongoing, upcoming, and new programs and initiatives.
  • Conference call with Dr. Gopi Kitnasamy – Head of Rehabilitation services at MJFCF  who is presently located in London, to brief him on the outcome of our meetings with his MJFCF colleagues to discuss how best to implement upcoming projects, programs, training for our caregivers, health, and rehabilitation camps etc. under our collaborative partnership agreement.
  • Series of meetings (over many days) with our VACD Sri Lanka Board members on current and future projects and programs and the need for them to ensure that VACD Sri Lanka adheres to the strict compliance, governance, transparency, and reporting guidelines and requirements under which they and VACD Australia operate.
  • Meetings and discussions with local Consultant Pedestrians and local doctors to seek their guidance on what must be done to assist our disabled children to cope with many challenges they face and for them to resume visiting our centres on a regular basis to examine our children. This initiative has since commenced. 

Dr. Kamalaseeli Mallawaarchchige – Consultant Pediatrician at Base Hospital Diyatalawa and her colleagues paid our VACD Bandarawela centre a visit, examined all our VACD Bandarawela centre children, updated their health records, shared this information with our staff and gave parents advice and guidance on how to care for their children.

  • Meeting with Mrs Damayanthi Paranagama – Chief Secretary Uva Provincial Council to 

apprise her of VACD’s history, vision and mission and our ongoing and new projects, programs, and initiatives. Mrs. Paranagama has promised to arrange free transport to and from our centres for our VACD children and one accompanying carer.

  • Meeting and updating the Chief Secretary – Ministry of Health Uva, Director of Health Services Uva, Assistant Secretary Health Services Uva, Heads of Childcare, Social Services, Probation etc. of our ongoing and upcoming initiatives. These officials stress that children with disabilities are in critical need of assistance and urge us to concentrate and devote our resources and efforts towards this area since this sector has been overlooked and neglected for a very long time.
  • Visiting our VACD centres in Bandarawela, Badulla and Ambagasdowa, having close and personal discussions with our local leadership team, staff, care givers, parents, children, and their family members and intermingling with them helped us to acquire a better understanding of their pressing needs and priorities. We need to urgently find practical and meaningful policies to alleviate their persistent hardships and offer them an opportunity to have a better and brighter future by judiciously and efficiently allocating resources that are available to us.
  • We discovered that the level of impoverishment in the rural sector in Sri Lanka has risen sharply over the past 2-3 years making it almost impossible for families with disabled children living in these areas to provide basic amenities to their children let alone provide special care and medication that these children need in order to cope with their challenges. There is a strong bidirectional link between poverty and the inability for parents to support and care for their disabled children.
  • The number of children registered with us has risen alarmingly since we established our new centre in  Ambagasdowa. According to available official data, this region has a significant number of children suffering from congenital disabilities and developmental disorders relative to other parts of the country.
  • The number of families receiving family assistance from VACD has increased sharply since the establishment of this new centre. The cost of supporting this initiative is A$ 25 or equivalent per month that is tax deductible to Australian based taxpayers. (Please see below how you can support our mission)

Launch of our VACD Melbourne Chapter & Lunch

The VACD Melbourne chapter was launched on Sunday, 8th October in Melbourne where VACD directors, local friends, family, supporters, and well-wishers were present to celebrate and enjoy this occasion over lunch, salsa dancing and a lot of fun.

More news about this event will be published in a special edition of this newsletter soon along with details of those who made special donations, offered their pro bono services, and supported our mission.

Support for VACD from the Lions Club of Uva Wellassa 

Thanks to our Deputy Chairman VACD Sri Lanka and director in charge of our Badulla centre,  Deshamanya N G R D Kumarawansa, Lion Palitha Wijekoon and Mrs Manel Wijesundara from the Lions Club of Uva Wellassa donated three wheelchairs to our Badulla centre while Lion,  Project coordinator and Proprietor of Central Optic Care, arranged an eye clinic that was organised for our VACD children, who after their ophthalmic examinations were given their  prescription spectacles free by Lions club and Central Optic Care.

Support for VACD from the Red Cross Society – Badulla

A group of members from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society of Badulla, donated their time, labor, and skills and organized a working bee at the VACD Bandarawela centre. 

These volunteers did a remarkable amount of work around the VACD Bandarawela centre by weeding and cleaning overgrown surroundings. Thank you, Red Cross Society of Badulla. Your services and support for our mission are deeply appreciated.

VACD’s Team, Projects, Programs & Newsletters:

Please visit our VACD Webpages to find details of our team, projects, programs, and newsletters. 

Multiple donation options to support our mission:

The following hyperlink will enable you to find all donation options that are available to you on our webpage: 

Donations to VACD Australia by Australian Taxpayers are tax deductible.

Multicurrency Benevity Causes Portal for International Donations:

International donors who wish to support our mission can do so through the Benevity Causes portal via the hyperlink below for all your multi-currency donation options:

A big “Thank You” to all of you…

Our journey is bound to be long and challenging. The official and unofficial number of children and families who need our support are sizeable. We look forward to your continued generosity, active support for our undertaking and you being partners with us in this most fulfilling and worthwhile 12+ years journey that we traverse together.

Please visit us at:  and reach out to us at: should you choose to support our mission. Please share this newsletter with your network! Together, we certainly 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 –