POUGHKEEPSIE – The Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) is holding its annual art sale September 15, 16 and 17, 2017, on the second floor of Main Building. Proceeds from the event support numerous programs in Chermaitre—a mountain village in Haiti unreachable by road.
Founded by Andrew Meade, Director of International Services at Vassar College, and his wife, Lila, VHP has raised over $1,500,000 since 2001. The organization engages college students in a global citizenship curriculum and its fundraising sales directly support the livelihood of literally hundreds of Haitian artists and artisans. Vassar alumna Anna Brashear says, “VHP taught me the most useful skill of all, which is always to give of yourself to others. By giving my time, energy, and passion to VHP, I became part of a family and dedicated community which strives to work together with a village in Haiti to make a positive difference.”
The organization counts on the success of its art sales to fund numerous life-sustaining projects, including:
– Medical clinic. A three-room medical clinic has been fully operational since April 2014, and is overseen by a full time nurse and a physician, who are both Haitian. The clinic sees 1,000 patients a year, and provides health care to the residents of 30 villages. Patients walk as much as three hours one-way to access health care at the clinic.
– Women’s Cooperative. The 75-member cooperative was formed by village women looking to further support their families and the village. The women learn how to sew fabrics and make jewelry, both of which will be for sale. The Co-op also harvests, roasts, grinds, and bags coffee that VHP very quickly sells.
– Education. Chermaitre’s primary school serves 300 children in kindergarten through sixth grade. VHP now supports a scholarship program that makes secondary school education possible for about eight students a year. New kindergarten classrooms have been recently constructed.
– Reforestation. Fifteen thousand trees were planted over 2015/2016, Phase II of a long term effort to repopulate the mountainsides with a minimum of 100,000 fruit and lumber trees to greatly enhance food security and environmental stability in the area. This phase was funded by an American Forests grant.
– Water Access and Purification. Thanks to a $55,000 Rotary Global Foundation grant to improve water access and purification in Chermaitre, work began on this effort in 2016.
The coming Vassar sale will run from Friday, September 15, through Sunday, September 17, in the College Center multi-purpose room on the second floor of Main Building. On Friday, Sept. 15, the sale will run from noon – 7:00pm. On Saturday, September 16, the sale will be open from 10am – 5pm, and will feature a live auction of Haitian art beginning at 2:30pm.
On Sunday the sale will be open 10am – 2pm. Hundreds of original paintings will be offered as well as thousands of handcrafts, including hand painted silk scarves and iron sculptures.
VHP makes trips twice yearly to Haiti, bringing with them Vassar students and other volunteers from the Hudson Valley area. Jenna Amlani ’16 recalls the powerful impact of her trip, “Going to Haiti with VHP during spring break of my sophomore year was unlike anything I had ever experienced; I came out of that trip knowing that I wanted to devote my career to building a more just and equitable world.”