An Update of VHP Programs
by, Tim Singer - VHP co-founder and Board member
My wife, and fellow board member, Augusta and I just returned from Haiti. We were so happy to see all of our friends and associates, and even happier to see the progress of the programs that VHP has helped to create over the past several years.
After settling in, and spending some time at the "Tchaka Inn" in Port au Prince, our first stop was in the village of Desab: The first place we visited, back in 2006. I'm pleased to report that the medical clinic, founded by VHP in 2008, is still serving hundreds of villagers who otherwise would not have access to health care. Thanks to another USA organization- Stone by Stone - who took over supporting the project in 2012, the Desab clinic operates regularly with a local doctor, nurse, and health care workers.
As for the programs still under VHP's watch, please read on....
VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTER
Our next stop was Duchity, home of the rural vocational center. Once a ten-hour drive from Port au Prince, the trip to Duchity has been cut nearly in half, thanks to road improvements. And speaking of improvement, the main lodge, more than halfway completed, features solar energy, thanks in part to fellow Vermonter Gary Beckwith, who installed panels in 2012.
While in Duchity, we met with project manager Despagne Felix, and VHP business manager Fenel Jean, who outlined their plan for the start of the vocational training center. If funding comes through, student applications, registration, and staff hiring will commence in the late winter and spring. Class will begin in October, 2014. Until class workshops can be constructed, classes will take place in extra rooms in the main lodge.
By spending time in this beautiful mountain village, we realize how important it is to build rural programs, and get people out of the crowded city.
Much was accomplished, while in Haiti, in terms of our BioSand water filter program. While in Duchity, we met with leaders of the St. Thomas group, from Illinois, who are also fully committed to this village. St. Thomas has received a generous grant to furnish 1500+ filters to the people of Duchity; Preliminary plans were made to see how our two organizations may best compliment one another, and mutually serve the clean water needs of the village.
We also got to witness the delivery of a filter to one family in Duchity. There's nothing like the look on the faces of the families, when Patrick (our lead technician) installs a filter. It's a look of gratitude, but also relief, in knowing that they will finally be free from so many of the diseases associated with unclean water!
Our water program continues to be a huge success thanks to an annual grant from the Sisters of Mercy, and our scores of donors.
Our final stop in Haiti, on the day we left the country, was at the Ecole Foyer d'Espoir school and community center. Begun in 2008 as a small one room school, in a private home, the school now boasts over 200 students, in six grades, with future plans to expand to grades 7-10.
In many respects EFE represents our biggest success story; Vermont Haiti Project is slowly phasing out of this program, secure in the knowledge, and the assurance of the school staff, that they are now running a self-supported, fully sustainable. community serving business!
Which doesn't, of course, mean that people can't still donate to help out the school, or any of the other VHP programs. There's nothing like the satisfaction of seeing how well the people in our represented communities are now doing; how grateful they are to have opportunities to grow economically, drink clean water, be educated, and have access to health care.
Each trip we make to Haiti is special, and leaves us with a great appreciation for the continued spirit and drive of the Haitian people, not to mention gratitude for Vermont Haiti Project's continued donors and supporters.
Fellow board member Kimball Butler is still in the country and will, not doubt, have more to add when she returns later this week.