Feed on

From our trippers!


Lila Meade: I woke up to the cacophony of roosters singing in harmony to the response of dogs protesting whatever impending danger they perceived. This started happening at 3am. I’ve forgotten that sleep is not the foremost conversation when we come Haiti – the rhythm of this country is such that sleep is overrated. Especially in contrast to all I still have to learn. While this is my 19th trip to Haiti, the beautiful Haitian people keep reminding me of how much I can still grow. It is always humbling.

In less than three days, we sat in our fifth (what is now infamous) debrief meeting last night. The ‘we’ is ten amazing Vassar students, and the one and only Caryn who has loved and supported this project since its very beginning 17 years ago. We now have a cache of over 115 beautifully vibrant pieces of original art that we shall be selling over the coming months in our upcoming art sales. We think of how many lives we’ve touch and will touch through the art. We are so lucky.

Our partners here in Haiti remind me of why we do VHP. Benoit Profelus, a young artist who was still wearing his apron covered in paint smudges when he came running to our simple guest house in Gros Morne to greet us said, “I just couldn’t sleep last night, I am so excited knowing that you are coming today. I welcome you!” Benoit, at the ripe age of 24, has started an art school which now is training 22 young people how to paint and start a livelihood for themselves.

Benoit, I can hardly sleep also. I love you and your people. I am privileged to be welcomed into your heart and to learn from you. Being here in the rural, mountainous part of Haiti is a stark contrast to Port au Prince where we were just a day ago.

Our students are transforming before our very eyes, taking in everything. This group of ‘trippers’ as we affectionately call them (students going on the Haiti ‘trip’) are wide-eyed, open, introspective, and struggling to make sense of the contradictions that are Haiti. I love being with this group as I watch us drink in everything that we see. We’ve figured out that there are probably two of us out of thirteen who are extroverts– so we must allow lots of time for reflection. Journaling seems to be the antidote.

I am moved beyond words watching us work as a team. I am moved beyond words watching Catherine take in the plight of Haitian artists as she interviews them and absorbs their challenges. I am inspired by how each and every one is taking care of each other – and me for that matter. (Thank you Ayumi for grounding me as we worked our way through the art market “Miss! Miss! Miss!”). I fall in love with Andrew again and again as I watch him masterfully navigate all challenges with such strength and gentleness. I am listening and reminded what it takes to make concrete changes in a village somewhere in the depths of the Haitian mountains while concurrently making changes in our part of the world in New York.

And today, we head into these breathtaking mountains where I will get to embrace some of the most loving, tenacious, and caring people in my life. We all can’t wait for the hour and a half drive through riverbeds and unmarked roads that will lead us to the base of the mountain and then the two hour uphill climb to Chermaitre. I hope my crying knees forgive me for what’s about to come. But I know my heart will be singing when we arrive to see our family in Chermaitre again. I just can’t wait.


Ayumi Haremaki: Hassan, Meeraal, and I are busy journaling, trying to take in everything we have experienced.


Laura Yang: I am busy writing down Annabell’s (and everyone’s) quotes, trying to record every delightful moment we have created together.


Jillian Hornbeck: Haiti has been a beautiful and exhilarating time so far which has opened my eyes and has already taught me countless lessons. This country has a vibrant movement and energy, and I am excited to finally make our way up to Chermaitre and see more of Haiti!


Sohaib Nasir: I love hiking. I realized today morning that I misplaced my sunglasses so I am kinda sad. But its okay because we’re going hiking.


Hassan Ragy: Yesterday we drove from Port-au-Prince to Gonaives. Driving through dry, rocky mountains covered in shrubbery, along the sparkling blue ocean lined with coconut trees, over rolling hills and acres of rice farms, through crowded cities and markets, and areas where the only people for hundreds of meters are busy in the rice fields, all with the striking backdrop of the mountains. Haiti is rich, beautiful, and diverse, in its landscapes, wildlife, and its people.


Annika Rowland: This trip has been unlike any I have experienced. I have greatly enjoyed traveling though Port Au Prince and and am beginning to better understand the lives of the Haitians. Today we visit the clinic and hike up to Chermaitre, and I could not be more excited. I know the next few days will be life changing.


Tahsin Oshin: It has been overwhelming 3 days since we reached Haiti, and each day has revealed a different part of VHP and Haiti for me. Travelling with a dynamic group, it has been an interesting and pleasant experience to see Haiti through others eyes.


Caryn Halle: Someone said “One day in Haiti is like a week…” They may have meant this due to Haiti’s intense rhythm, but I would say that is true given how much we have accomplished in such a short time. We are just a few hours from our ascent to the village, and I am incredibly excited to see the changes that have occurred in the village over the last four years, since my last trip. It’s also truly an honor to be a part of this diverse group of students, and to be able to see Haiti through their eyes. There is so much more to learn.


Annabell Su: Ready to go :)


Art & Soul

Never did I imagine that arranging paintings on a panel, in preparation for Art and Soul, (our fundraising event which funds the clinic in Haiti for a year) would have such an unforgettable effect on who I am as an individual. As I visualized what was being portrayed, and trying to understand what the artists were conveying, I was taken on an internal journey that I did not want to end. It began with a vibrant painting of beautiful women dancing to their own rhythms, as if they were unmoved by the outer world and untouched by the disturbances surrounding them.

This reminded me of the power of women, and how we are able to create inner spaces of abundant joy and peace in spite of what surrounds us. We are able to be the binding force that holds everything together,
 regardless of the many instabilities that exist in our world. We are able to keep the rhythm going.

-Makeba Walcott ’19, Women’s Initiative Director


Listen to a recent radio interview with Peter Leonard, Lila Meade and Molly McCarthy about the Art and Soul Gala by clicking on the link below!



Art & Soul Preparations

Preparation for Art & Soul is the epitome of collaboration and cooperation amongst the various VHP committees. In the last two weeks, the Health Committee has reached out to the Merch Committee and Events Committee to check on gifts and signup sheets.

                              As Art & Soul is approaching, the committees are working together to get the fine details down, from posters to merch to food. Questions are thrown from left to right to make every single minuscule detail perfect for the event. And I believe this process really highlights the sense of community, teamwork, and dedication that defines VHP. 

-Connie Zhong, Health Committee Member


Preparations for Art & Soul

As we prepare for the Art & Soul Gala, we have asked some of our Health Committee members to share their thoughts. Thank you to Violet Tan for starting us off!


“The upcoming Art and Soul Gala has sent the various VHP committees aflutter with activity. The Health Committee’s various deliberations on logistics and performance line-ups is especially telling of the gravity of this event. Issues arise, from important questions – “what sort of presents should we give to the sponsors?” – to minuscule problems – “poster dimensions, anybody?” No detail is too small; no stone is left unturned. VHP members have thrown themselves into this project with no-holds-barred gusto, and if all goes well – it will – the Art and Soul Gala will be a sight to behold.”

– Violet Tan, Health Committee Member


St. Mark’s Sale

Over the weekend of February 2nd, VHP hosted an art sale at the St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C for the second time.  This sale was spearheaded by the brilliant Jackie Eiting, who sits on our Board of Directors, and was executed by community volunteers who housed us, Vassar alumni who helped work the sale, and VHP students who spent their weekend away from Vassar.  As one of our most successful off-campus sales, it was a true team effort with each VHPer working in harmony from set-up Friday morning to tear-down Sunday afternoon.
Returning from my junior fall semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark as one of the co-presidents, this sale was extra special to me.  It was amazing to meet new and returning customers and see so many people embrace VHP’s compassionate mentality, especially in light of President Trump’s disrespectful comments towards Haiti.  However, what made this sale the most special was having the opportunity to bond with the four Vassar first-years going on the annual trip to Haiti in March.  Witnessing their excitement at being involved in VHP and anticipation of the trip was infectious and reminded my of my own experience preparing for the trip two years ago.  Having once engaged in these conversations as a first-year with the current presidents, and now having the same conversations as a co-president myself showed me what a full circle VHP is.  Remembering the transformative experience I had in Haiti two years ago confirms why I have stayed stayed involved in the organization and continue to work hard for Chermaitre.  I’m so excited for all the exciting things VHP has coming this semester!
-Alex Ng ’19, Co-President

Love is one of the Vassar Haiti Project’s core values so today, and every day, we celebrate it in all of its forms. Happy Valentine’s Day from VHP! ❤


Last semester, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. The experience allowed personal growth in so many areas. I was able to take classes in human health and neuroscience that were both specific to my interests and on topics that are not offered at Vassar. For the four months I was in Denmark, I lived with a host mom. This was a unique experience that allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and live a more typical daily life of a Dane. On weekends and breaks, I had the opportunity to travel to other countries throughout Europe and explore a variety of cities.

While abroad was a great experience and I was able to more or less relax for a semester, I am so happy to be back to Vassar. I missed this campus for a variety of reasons, but the top two were my friends and the organizations and activities on campus that I take part in, especially VHP. Anyone in VHP will tell you our organization has a strong sense of community, which promotes old friendships and encourages new ones. This semester is exciting for me as my first semester on EB and I look forward to playing a stronger role in VHP through this experience and hope to bond more with members of VHP.

-Phebe Warren ’19, Health Manager


Last night’s opening was a success and today’s sale is wonderful! Thanks to everyone for your support. Here are some photos from set-up yesterday. Stay tuned for more!



Fair Trade Bazaar!

In December, we participated in the Fair Trade Bazaar at the Dutchess County Interfaith Council. The space was filled with vendors selling a variety of items from Rainsticks and Chocolate, along with excellent live music. Members of VHP participated to sell handcrafts, as well as to engage with the members of the Poughkeepsie community. It was a great bonding experience for those participating in the March trip to Haiti, as they worked together during second day of the Bazaar.
-Ayumi Haremaki ’20, Grants Director

Older Posts »

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.