Who we are
Founded in 2001, the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) engages students in a life-changing, experiential education in global citizenship, promotes Haitian art, and fosters sustainable development in Haiti. The Vassar Haiti Project is a collaborative that comprises three elements: it isan independent student organization by that name, working closely with
a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called the Haiti Project, and is also
an experiential education program that teaches students the theory and practice of global citizenship.
In addition to the purchase and sale of original Haitian art, contributions are guided by five initiatives in the mountain village of Chermaitre: education, health care, reforestation, clean water access, and a women’s cooperative. Visit the website at www.thehaitiproject.org to learn more about the art, the students, and about how you can get involved.
Why we are organizing this fundraiser
In 2012, the Vassar Haiti Project committed to building, staffing, and supplying a medical clinic in Fiervil, Haiti, a town located near Chermaitre in the NW mountains of Haiti. The Chermaitre-Fiervil Clinic provides much needed medical care, to which most residents of these mountain communities would otherwise not have access. The clinic has treated patients for a wide range of issues, including typhoid, malaria, cholera and a host of other ailments. Regular evaluation by a doctor has helped to reduce the spread of preventable diseases.
Since the clinic opened eight years ago, the Vassar Haiti Project has hosted an annual “Art and Soul Gala” at the Vassar College Alumnae/i House, a one-day event that celebrates the work of and raises funds for the clinic in Haiti. The Alumnae/i House comes alive with vibrant art, delicious food, and inspiring presentations. The funds of this event, through sponsorship, ticket sales, and the sales of art purchases, support the operation of the Chermaitre-Fiervil Clinic for an entire year. Sadly, this year we had to cancel the Art and Soul Gala because of the Covid 19 quarantine. We are subsequently well short of our fundraising goal!
The clinic annually serves 3000 people, who walk as much as three hours one way from about 45 mountain villages. The nearest area hospital is an additional four hours walk away, an impossible trip to make for many of the patients we see. The Vassar Haiti Project is currently working to secure a grant to construct a solar powered laboratory next to the clinic. This project will build capacity in several critical ways: 1) It will electrify the clinic, in which currently doctors use flashlights even at midday; 2) It will construct and equip a laboratory to permit onsite diagnostic testing; and 3) It will provide refrigeration to support a vaccination program.
You can also contribute to the clinic through the purchase of original Haitian Art. Purchases through May 31st entitles you to a 15% discount. Use code artandsoul2020 when you check out.
History of the Chermaitre-Fiervile Clinic
2011: Conception of clinic idea with students and partners
2012: Through a series of art sales at schools and churches, VHP raised sufficient funds to construct the
clinic. On VHP’s March 2012 Haiti trip, volunteers saw the site where the foundation of the clinic
had been laid.
2013: VHP’s Medical Advisory Board was formed, under the direction of Daniel Z. Aronzon, MD, who
serve to guide and fund the clinic in partnership with students. In March, a group from Vassar traveled to Haiti and saw that the construction of the clinic had been completed. The three-room clinic includes a pharmacy room and two examination rooms.
2014: A permanent doctor, Dr. Gueslin Joassainvil, and a nurse, Ms. Rosenerline, were hired. Over the
years, the clinic is now open five days and week operating with two full time nurses and a weekly visit from Dr. Gueslin.
· All medications are funded by the Vassar Haiti Project
· A Medical Committee in Haiti from Fiervil and Chermaitre collect patient fees, oversees
reports as well as feedback from the community about the clinic.
2016: The Vassar Haiti Project begins focusing on institutionalizing medical records and obtaining
electricity for the clinic building. Conversations and plans to construct a solar laboratory for the clinic were initiated. The diagnostic tests that otherwise have to be performed at a hospital a four hour walk away could be performed at the clinic. As well, refrigeration of vaccines for the children of the 42 surrounding villages could be formalized.
· Records: Patient Records for individual clinic patients, Summary Reports for each clinic day
held, Wellness Measurements for students a L’Ecole St. Paul, our school in Chermaitre.
· Electricity: Looking into solar power for vaccine refrigeration, lab equipment, and general
2017: Attendance and popularity of clinic increases; Dr. Gueslin visits the clinic weekly and works with two
nurses who staff the clinic five days a week.
2018: VHP initiates the Solar Lab and Equipment grant proposal and presents to over fifteen Rotary Clubs
across New England to raise funds for a Rotary International Grant.
March 2018: “Days for Girls” kits (reusable menstrual pads) sewed and donated by local AAUW Clubs are distributed to the clinic and to women in surrounding villages
2019: Initial submission of Solar Powered Lab Rotary grant.
I participated in Vassar Haiti Project's art and soul last year, a fancy and meaningful night at Vassar College’s Alumnae House. We started preparing for this event, inviting honorees, and getting sponsors since the beginning of the fall semester.
At the beginning of the spring semester, we would receive RSVPs from people, and start to decide on event details such as caterers, musicians, the program, etc. A few days before the event, we volunteers began to move paintings, handicrafts, posters, and anything we have that represents Chermaitre or Haiti all the way from the Main Building to the Alumnae House, just across the street. On the evening of the event, everything was set and everyone got dressed, ‘dress to impress!’.
The Alumnae House was full of meaningful conversations and laughter. We were able to talk to friends and partners of the Project that we never met before. The preparation, set up and tear down of Art & Soul is a long process. But thinking of the fact that the funds raised through the event that helps support our clinic in Haiti for a year makes every effort worth it. -Alice Fan, ‘19