Empowering Femmes de Chermaitre, a women’s co-operative in rural Haiti, to attain sustainable livelihoods through education, microfinancing, and skills development.
Femmes de Chermaitre
This fundraiser will support Femmes de Chermaitre, a women’s co-operative in the rural mountain village of Chermaitre, Haiti, that began in 2014 and now consists of 35 women. Femmes de Chermaitre provides a space of solidarity for the women to develop business-related skills and collectively improve their livelihoods.
Partnering with the student-led Women’s Initiative of the Vassar Haiti Project, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization based at Vassar College, Femmes de Chermaitre has been producing coffee, jewelry, napkins, and face masks for both their local market and the U.S. market. However, the range of products they have been able to make is limited due to the lack of resources. Aside from the desire to learn new skills in order to expand their product line, the women are also eager for an adult education program.
With this fundraiser, the Women’s Initiative hopes to respond to the co-op’s aspirations to become more financially independent and economically stable to support their families. Our campaign is three-fold with the mission to empower and support women through:
1. Skills Development
- The women’s co-op has been making hand-sewn napkins as well as face masks (which started last year in response to the pandemic). But the current process is limited in scope. The introduction of sewing machines will allow the women to learn a valuable skill, increase their efficiency, and support them in their artistry efforts.
- 66% of Haiti’s banks are located around the capital, Port-au-Prince, which is 8 hours away from the village of Chermaitre where our women’s co-op is. Without affordable and reliable financial services, the only options available are loan sharks who offer high interest rates.
- Through microfinancing, we can support the women with small loans to cover immediate living costs, such as food, water and housing, grow their businesses, and protect themselves from future economic and political upheavals.
3. Adult Education & Leadership Training
- The education program will enable both women and men to learn not only elementary knowledge such as reading, writing, and math but also co-op management and leadership.
- This program will provide the adults with an equal opportunity to learn and with an inclusive space of solidarity where they can come together and work collaboratively.
*COST BREAK DOWN*
- Equipment Procurement and Training: $5,000
$4,000 - Sewing machines (Quantity: 10)
$400 - Transportation
$600 - Skills training
- Microfinancing: $4,500
- Adult Education: secured funding through a Rotary grant
Who We Are
The Vassar Haiti Project, founded in 2001, is a student-led non-profit organization located at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY. We partner with the village of Chermaitre and take annual trips to Haiti to meet with our partners, where we engage in important conversations and create new possibilities that help to transform both the narratives surrounding Haiti and the lives of the Haitian people. Unfortunately, these trips to Haiti have been suspended since 2019 due to political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have maintained our relationship and communication with our partners and have been able to continually engage our students and volunteers in efforts to make a difference in Haiti.
- To engage and educate students in the theory and practice of global citizenship.
- To promote Haitian art and raise the nation’s narrative through art.
- To foster sustainable development in Haiti, including women’s empowerment.
By purchasing paintings and handcrafts from local artists in Haiti to sell in the US, we support hundreds of Haitian artists and artisans as well as fund our initiative projects in Chermaitre. Our initiatives include Art, Education, Healthcare, Reforestation, Water Access and Purification, and Women’s Co-operative. We have hosted 80+ art sales and sold over 5,000 paintings and thousands of handcrafts. Other past projects include the continual funding of a primary school and a medical clinic, both of which were built by VHP. Additionally, we have installed clean water systems and planted over 35,000 fruit-bearing trees in Chermaitre.
How You Can Help
- Donate to this fundraising campaign.
- Donate directly to the Vassar Haiti Project: https://thehaitiproject.org/donatenow.
- Purchase Haitian paintings & handcrafts: https://thehaitiproject.org/shop.
Thank you for your support!