Where it all began
In 2006, Julie made her first trip to Sri Lanka and during that trip of 17 days, she met Mr Raja Gunasekara, and he showed her a side to Sri Lanka that one wouldn’t be privy to seeing from the back seat of a tourist car. Her life was, and still is to this day, profoundly changed by that experience.
After Julie arrived home, she decided that she wanted to try to help in some way, knowing that one person could make a difference. Little did she realise then just how much of a difference to so many peoples lives she would make.
Julie set about raising awareness about the plight of so many children and families who were suffering greatly due to the ongoing 30 year civil war in Sri Lanka. Julie held garage sales at her home, rallied family and friends to help with cake stalls, sausage sizzles and any other fundraising ideas that came to her mind, all the time planning ahead to her next trip.
In 2007, In My Heart Serendib Foundation Australia was born and registered here in Australia, and with Raja’s help, Julie planned her second trip to Sri Lanka where she would be visiting a small school in the North Central Province where 45 children learned. She had collected enough school bags, coloured pencils, pencils cases, sharpeners, rubbers and anything else that she thought might help children learn and had organised to have the three filled to the brim boxes shipped and timed their arrival for when she arrived.
That little school is Wellaragama Vidyalaya where it all began and Julie still visits yearly to this day.
Julie felt that the best way to support a country was to ensure that it’s children had access to the tools to get a good education. Children are the future of us all.
That first school visit was way back in 2007, and today, in 2018, through Julie and Raja’s hard work, In My Heart Serendib Foundation Australia now supports 430 children living less fortunate lives than us with educational items and a few other items that we all know bring smiles to children’s faces.
Who is Julie
Julie is an everyday person just like you and I. She is the second eldest of six children who grew up in country Victoria during the 1950’s in a family where life wasn’t always easy.
Julie is the mother of two adult daughters and had a long career in nursing before she made a change into something that was more closely linked to her heart, Community Development. She has a passion for fairness and equality which took her on a journey where she worked with new migrants and refugees and wonderful people who wanted to help with their settlement into Australia
It was during her 21 years with AMES that she felt the urge to do something that would make a difference to the lives of children living in a third world country. It wasn’t until her two daughters were older that she was able to act on her dreams and bring them to reality.
In 2006, Julie wanted to travel to a country that she had not visited before and it was then that one of her friends suggested that she go to Sri Lanka. She was apprehensive because they were in the midst of a civil war that had been raging for more than 20 years. After a lot of thought and discussion with her friends and family, she decided that Sri Lanka was the destination of her next trip.
That was the trip that changed her life, she came home profoundly affected by her experience and decided that she needed to, and could do, something to help the people of this tiny little country that not too many knew too much about. That was way back in 2006 and the beginning of the story of In My Heart Serendib Foundation Australia.
Julie worked full time, set up and managed In My Heart Serendib Foundation, worked tirelessly collecting donations of items for the children’s education, holding numerous fundraising activities, organised the packing and shipment of the goods to Sri Lanka and funded her annual trips where she personally delivers the goods to the children.
Then in 2016, she had another great idea, that the Foundation needed to have a more stable way of raising funds, so she was the driving force behind the opening of IMHS Charity Op Shop. In in late 2017, the Foundation under Julie’s guidance had grown up and needed to move out of her home into more permanent headquarters, so HQ was born.
Julie is no longer working full time so now she has the opportunity to go out into the wider Melbourne community and conduct talks to schools, community groups and Probus clubs.
The work Julie does supporting children in Sri Lanka continues to be her passion and her enthusiasm continues to inspire others to remain engaged and support her work.
One hundred percent of all donations and profit raised goes directly to the intended recipients in Sri Lanka. Money raised through fundraising activities is not used by members of the foundation for airfare, accommodation, meals or other sundry items, neither in Sri Lanka nor Australia.