The journey of LAF began in September 1999 when Lorraine Yu and Tami Tamitegama made a commitment at the 2nd Alzheimer’s Disease International Asia Pacific regional meeting held in Singapore to set up an Alzheimer’s Association in Sri Lanka.
Initially, LAF had no office of its own and operated from the family home of the Founders. In the early years, Lorraine Yu, Co-Founder of the Organisation strived hard to create awareness about a disease, little heard or understood in Sri Lanka and to raise funds to take their initiative forward.
With a vision to set up an Information and Service Center, Lorraine Yu and Tami Tamitegama decided to meet all expenses of the Foundation until the Centre was set up, from their personal funds. When their commitment finally ceased in 2011 with the opening of the state of the art Service and Information Centre, they had spent nearly 6 million rupees towards the cause.
In the early years, together with Priya Fernando, Lorraine visited homes of people with dementia and also the psychiatric wards of the Colombo South Hospital, Kalubowila and the National Institute for Mental Health. They regularly met with persons living with dementia and their families, to create awareness about the disease and to give practical guidance on care. Caregiver Support Groups met once a month in her home to counsel family caregivers on supporting their loved ones with dementia and handling behavioural and mood changes.
In 2011, the Service and Information Center of LAF was declared open at its current venue in Maradana, Colombo 10. The original furniture was borrowed or second hand. Some were outright donations from grateful families.
LAF harnessed volunteerism to a great extent. Administration costs were kept to a minimum. Even though Lorraine worked full time, she herself never drew any emoluments or stipend. Financial integrity and the culture of saving that she inculcated is still alive at LAF with many of its activities run by volunteers.
Today, LAF is known, recognized and respected for the services it provides. It has come a long way from the humble beginnings thanks to the vision of the Founders, ably supported by friends and volunteers.