Hundreds of original Haitian paintings and thousands of unique handcrafts will once again bring an atmosphere of magic and joy to the Vassar College campus, scheduled Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25, in the multipurpose room on the second floor of the College Center, located in Vassar’s historic Main Building. Proceeds from the event support numerous programs in Chermaitre—a mountain village in Haiti unreachable by road.
The event is open to the public, with handcrafts starting at $5, and paintings at $50. All sales are 50% tax deductible.
Founded by Executive Director Lila Meade and her husband Andrew Meade, director of international services at Vassar College, the Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) has raised more than $1,250,000 since 2001. The money has gone to extraordinarily good use, supporting various projects in Chermaitre. VHP’s most recent initiatives include:
- Medical. A three-room medical clinic has been fully operational since April 2014, and is overseen by a full time nurse and a physician, who are both Haitian. The clinic sees 1,000 patients a year, and provides health care to the residents of 30 villages. Patients walk as much as three hours one-way to access health care at the clinic. During the annual spring trip to Haiti in March 2016, VHP volunteers were witness to a life being saved. Carlhenri, a boy of 9 had an advanced case of cholera, and was successfully administered IV rehydration salts by Dr. Gueslin Joassainvil.
- Women's Cooperative. The 75-member cooperative was formed by village women looking to further support their families and the village. The women are learning how to sew fabrics and make jewelry, both of which will be for sale. The Co-op also harvests, roasts, grinds, and bags coffee that VHP very quickly sells. President of the cooperative and village resident Jeanne Saintulis hopes for the women “to be healthy, financially stable, and to feel like they are living with people here to help them. Because if you have people helping you, even though this is not the way you dreamed of living, at least you will be able to live better.”
- Education. Chermaitre’s primary school serves 300 children in kindergarten through sixth grade. VHP now supports a scholarship program that makes secondary school education possible for about eight students a year. New kindergarten classrooms have been recently constructed.
- Reforestation. Fifteen thousand trees were planted over 2015/2016, Phase II of a long term effort to repopulate the mountainsides with a minimum of 100,000 fruit and lumber trees to greatly enhance food security and environmental stability in the area. This phase was funded by an American Forests grant.
- Water Access and Purification. With great thanks to the Poughkeepsie and Peekskill Rotary Clubs, VHP has landed a $55,000 Rotary Global Foundation grant to improve water access and purification in Chermaitre. Work on this project is beginning this fall.
VHP counts proceeds from its sales and auctions of original Haitian art, held at Vassar and elsewhere, to generate much of the funding for these important initiatives.
The sale at Vassar will run from Friday, September 23, through Sunday, September 25, in the College Center multi-purpose room on the second floor of Main Building. On Friday, the sale will run from 12:00 – 7:00pm, and will feature a reception and presentation at 5pm by student participants. Saturday, September 24 will feature more sale hours, from 9:00am – 3:00pm, followed by a live auction of Haitian art. Registration for the live auction will begin at 3:00pm. A $10 paddle fee for the live auction includes $25 off one auction purchase, 10% off purchases during a special evening sale (5:30pm – 7:00pm), and a reception to be catered by Twisted Soul. Local auctioneer Ed Doyle will preside over the festivities. The sale will continue on Sunday from 10:00am – 2:00pm. Four hundred original paintings will be offered as well as thousands of handcrafts, including hand painted silk scarves and iron sculptures.
Participation in VHP provides students a hands-on, practical education in global citizenship. Since founding the non-profit project, Lila and Andrew Meade have made multiple trips to Chermaitre, bringing with them Vassar students and other volunteers from the Hudson Valley area. Their experiences are also reported through the Vassar Haiti Project blog.
Some of the artists whose work will be included in the upcoming sale and auction include Joseph Aderson, Raymond Beauduy, Albott Bonhomme, Georges Desarmes, Reynald Joseph, Raymond Lafaille, Jean Laguerre, Fritzner Lamour, Eric Jean Louis, Pierre Maxo, Makenol Profil, Serge Pierre, Jean Adrien Seide, and Yosephat Tissaint. Their art and other works can be previewed through the Vassar Haiti Project website (http://www.thehaitiproject.org).
Friday, Sept 23
12:00pm to 7:00pm Art Sale and Auction Preview
5:00pm Opening Reception and Student Presentation
Saturday, Sept 24
9:00am to 3:00pm Art Sale and Auction Preview
3:00pm to 4:00pm Auction Registration & Reception catered by Twisted Soul ($10 paddle fee includes: $25 off one auction purchase
and 10% off purchase during Special Evening Sale)
4:00pm to 5:30pm Live Auction of Haitian Art
5:30pm to 7:00pm Special Evening Sale
Sunday, Sept 25
10:00am to 2:00pm Art Sale continues
Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (http://www.vassar.edu).
Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.