Fr. Bill Kremmell, has been both a supporter, and ardent believer of Vermont Haiti Project since 2009.
Now, "Father Bill" is celebrating his 50th year as a priest and - in honor of the event - he is asking people wishing to remember him to do so by donating to Vermont Haiti Project.
With funds raised from this special campaign, "We hope to build a workshop for the students at the technical school," said VHP co-founder Donna Thomas, "so they will have a place to practice and learn plumbing, construction, tile, electrical, welding and agriculture."
This year I have had the pleasure of going to work in Haiti three times with VHP. On these trips to the school in Duchity I worked on the construction of four classrooms. The first three class rooms we finished in July. I worked with the carpenters to build ventilated louver gable end walls. What a blast when we got to move in the classroom chairs!
But the real thrill for me was the fourth classroom. In June and July we built most of the pieces for a modular building. It is a new construction method that uses recycled carpet to make concrete, carpet and fence wire laminated panels 5 centimeters thick. These are constructed flat on the ground and then let to harden for up to one month.
Then, when I went back in November, we started assembling the pieces. We constructed a simple wooden crane that could lift the concrete pieces into position. The structure will be 25 feet in diameter when finished and have eight storage closets so that the professors can store their teaching materials. This method was written up in Structures magazine, the journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers in November of 2014. When we finish the classroom in February of 2016, we will start building Haitian kitchens and houses. These will be fire and earth quake resistant, be very inexpensive and can be built with materials made mostly in Haiti.
Using this method we can build a safe kitchen for $400 and a small house for $1,200. As we start building them, the GPS locations will be published so you can follow our progress. Please consider donating a kitchen or a small house.
Tom Tailer has served on VHP's board of directors since 2014
Five years ago it was an idea...
Four years ago it was a piece of purchased land...
Three years ago it was a construction sight...
Two years ago it was an empty school....
One year ago it came alive with instruction and activity...
And, last month, the Duchity Vocational Center celebrated its first commencement, as 55 students, arrived in cap and gown, and left with both diploma in hand, and training to earn a living, while helping their community.
"It was both emotional and inspiring," said Vermont Haiti Project Board president Kimball Butler. Butler, along with VHP staff and volunteers, have worked throughout the decade with Despagne Felix, a Duchity native who came up with the idea for the school as a way to allow rural Haitians to remain in their region, rather than get schooling and jobs in already crowded urban areas.
175 students are currently enrolled in a variety of courses, including plumbing, welding, computer, English, tiling and agriculture.