By Dimithri Wijesinghe

#DonateADream is an online campaign on Instagram that’s collecting funds and donations of essential items from anywhere in the world to the Sri Jinananda Children’s Development Centre. The project, which is scheduled to go on for the course of two weeks, uses hashtags and influencers to spread the good cause.

The first step of the project in collecting funds is the children’s fantasy-themed photoshoot courtesy of the collaboration between Shifani Reffai (@shifanireffai) as the photographer, Bureau De Couture Designer and model Selen Jayasinghe (@selenj, @bureau.de.couture), makeup artist Hajara Shabeer (@artistry_by_h), pop artist and couture designer Ali Aslam (@_moondrip).

The custom-designed couture dress featured in the photoshoot is also up for auction and is set to go to the highest bidder. However, this particular option for bidding, which you can do by placing your bids at the Bureau De Couture Instagram page via DM, is only available for Sri Lanka. All auction proceeds go to the children in need. You also have the option of sharing and reposting the images from the pages to help get bidders and donors, and you can donate via PayPal no matter where you are in the world. In addition, you can drop off essential items for the children at the project’s dedicated collection points by simply DM-ing any one of the aforementioned collaborators.

Speaking to Shifani about their contribution to the project, she shared that her collaborators Selen, Hajara, and Ali have been working on the concept for the dress and the fundraiser for a while and that they roped her in because they felt it would resonate with her.

“I loved the dress and the headdress they created under the children’s fantasy theme, and felt I’d be a good fit to bring it to life in photograph. I love the idea of combining photography and fashion with a cause. The visual arts have a lot of power because people today often make decisions online based on how a picture or a video makes them feel.”

She further stated that all the proceeds from the campaign go to the wellbeing of the children at the Sri Jinananda Children’s Development Centre, adding that the easiest way someone can help is by giving them essentials like stationery, medicine, and household items (a comprehensive list has been given below).

“We’ve spoken to the admin at the centre and this is a collaboration between us to get funds to help the children to get the things they need to study and play and live comfortably.”

The boys at the centre are aged between three and 19 years and are in the care of the home’s staff and matron. The centre sees to all their needs from their meals, clothing, and medical needs to school supplies, tuition classes, and leisure time activities. Shifani shared that for these children, this centre is home and the staff are their family, and there’s now an opportunity for people to help make their lives a little better.