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.
Working Together; Making a Difference
A VHP group of six returned from Haiti last month. They spent one day in Port-au-Prince and then headed up to the mountain village of Duchity, approximately a six hour drive. They had a great trip and it was wonderful to see that the vocational school is going really well. There are 285 students! Many of the students enrolled in a trade curriculum are also taking a computer class and/or English class.
One person on this trip works for NOLS and is taking a break for the winter as she is interested to shift her leadership/outdoor education skills into something with a stronger humanitarian focus.
Kimball heads back to Haiti in April with Tom Tailer. Tom is a Vermonter who has developed a technique for building with panels of recycled material and thin layers of cement- construction that is inexpensive and strong enough to resist hurricanes and earthquakes.
Tom will begin the research and surveying this April; then the project will start in June when some UVM engineering students go to Duchity to build a workshop using Tom’s techniques. Kimball will travel with them for orientation, and the students will then continue on with building and teaching for a couple more weeks.
Volunteers for Peace will be staying in the dormitory at the school June 27- mid-August doing a summer camp with the local kids.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 13, 2015
VERMONT HAITI PROJECT TO BE RECOGNIZED AS PART OF A STATE HOUSE RESOLUTION
We are pleased to announce that a decade of service by Vermont Haiti Project, Inc. will be the subject of a state resolution, to be read next week at the state house in Montpelier!
Representative Marjorie Ryerson (Randolph) will be reading the citation during the 10:00am session, Tuesday March 17.
The resolution reads, in part:
“Through their decade of service in Haiti, volunteers of VHP have operated according to the philosophy that ‘we are one world and thus we need to reach out to make sure our fellow citizens, especially those most in need, are healthy, safe, and are afforded opportunities that will improve their quality of life.’
“Caring for our neighbors… providing opportunities that promote healthy, safe communities… and fostering self-reliance are traits that have always served Vermont well. They are traits that Vermont Haiti Project is proud to share in Haiti.”
Vermont Haiti Project has previously been lauded; in 2010 Senator Patrick Leahy composed a letter of praise and thanks for VHP’s response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti.
This latest recognition – not to mention the wonderful progress made with VHP’s programs in Haiti – could not have happened without the backing of hundreds of VHP friends, family and supporters. As such, all are invited to attend Tuesday’s resolution, as we would be honored to share in our recognition with our supporters.
Many thanks from VHP!
The VHP-sponsored Duchity Vocational Training Center opened for classes last month; some class pics appear below. CLICK HERE to read more about the hard work and long-term planning that went into the opening of the center.
The Duchity Vocational Training Center is up and running! Classes are under way but, of course, construction and development continues. VHP board member Kimball Butler is in Duchity and yesterday filed this first hand look at the program in operation:
All is well albeit a little too cool for my liking. Weather has been cooperating except today- downpours on and off with small breaks in between. We did manage to get in a rock-carrying brigade with several local kids, youth and adults. Moving a large pile from the back 40 to just inside the wall. These rocks are Heavy! Anouse, Despagne, Jode and Jean Fenel are amazingly strong men- I can attest to this by seeing the size rocks hey were able to heft and carry!
Rocks are for the foundation of the space/shelter Bos Fritzner is creating for the welders to work. They have been working in a large tent but the tent is needed for the English class which is very large. The welders are still making desk chairs as well as doing side jobs for people in the community needing repairs of various things.
Click Read More to continue story
We are feeling great to thank you for the generous support you gave to the vocational center school in Duchity. With your help, take a look at these pictures to see where your money went to. That building wasn't made to teach, it was built as a place for the teacher, students and group of visitors to spend time.
The parents and the youth come from all over the community to get information about what are the skills and options, and when the school will start.
So that we would like to let you know the importance it has to open the door, this October 13th 2014 - even if the dorm or the place are not completely finished - We will still use it to start to teach!
(Please click the READ MORE link for photos and additional information)
"What is life like for a typical young person born in Duchity, Haiti? To start with, his/her house is a typical one room, cinder block box, with a rusted, corrugated metal roof...."
"The youth's prospects are slim: no healthcare; no government funded education..."
"The past five years, my volunteer work in Haiti has made me recognize the incredible life of affluence and privilege I was just plain lucky to be born into..."
"My belief is that my chief responsibility is to use me advantage to better the lives of those born in places where a life's aspirations are stymied by untenable circumstances."
Read a full report of the mission of, and work being done by dedicated volunteer David Casey at VHP's upstart vocational training center in Duchity.
Dear VHP Friends and Supporters:
Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, VHP embarked on a promising new program to support the creation of the Duchity Vocational Training Center. It is with many deep and heartfelt thanks to all of your support that we have realized it's incredibly successful initial development! The region of Duchity is eagerly anticipating the center to open its doors this fall of 2014.
We are now at a crucial turning point and in need of $25,000 for equipment and supplies, training needs and building completion. To date, we have already reached 17% of our fundraising goal--please help us in pulling together the remaining critical funds to making this program a dream come true!
VHP is immensely grateful for the support and donations we have received from all of you, as well as from other volunteer groups and charitable organizations, since launching the Duchity program in 2010. We believe in the dream of Duchity resident, and vocational training center project manager, Despagne Felix: “I am very happy to know that people will have a place away from Port au Prince. A place to learn a skill and to create a life that will support their family, their extended family and their village.”
As you know, we believe in minimizing our email campaigns so if you would like to give to Vermont Haiti Project in 2014, now is the time! You may donate online (via PayPal), by check (mailed to: Vermont Haiti Project, 63 Maple Leaf Lane, Shelburne, VT 05482), or by going to our donation page.
Our other programs- Biosand water filters and EFE (urban primary school)- are well funded, fully established, locally managed, and hugely successful. We are very intentional in designing and implementing our programs with our Haitian partners, and we look forward to being able to successfully launch this Vocational Training Center in Duchity and to seeing it become self-sustaining.
For 25 years Despagne Felix has dreamed of creating the opportunity for vocational training and now his community and the surrounding region is counting on it. We, at VHP, believe that this Vocational Training Center has the power to transform lives.
In Haiti the ripple effect is far reaching:
One family member learning a vocational skill = earning power = many lives impacted. Just one student can easily improve the lives of 10 or 20 or more!
Please join us in bringing Despagne’s dream to life!
On behalf of Despagne, Vermont Haiti Project, and the people of Duchity: Many thanks for your support!