“This is your chance to beautify your surroundings and support important and effective work of the The Vassar Haiti Project (VHP) in Haiti,” explains Debbie Danielson. She’s one of the folks volunteering her energy in the planning of an art sale at St. Mark’s that will benefit Haitians.
VHP is hosting the third bi-annual sale of Haitian paintings and handcraft at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (301 A St. SE) Feb. 21, 22, and 23, 2020. All funds raised will help support art, education, health and sustainable development in villages in rural Haiti.
Two years ago, Debbie Danielson, then the owner of Forecast in DC, walked into the Haitian art sale at St. Mark’s and fell in love. One year later, she went to Haiti and met with young artists and saw the many projects the VHP supports. Now her house is alive with beautiful Haitian art and the stories these paintings tell, and you can bring this life to your home as well.
Over 200 original Haitian paintings and a vast array of unique handcrafts will be for sale. The event is free and open to the public, and all sales are 50% tax deductible. Paintings start at $50 and handcrafts at $5.
The weekend events will kick-off Friday with a wine and cheese reception from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., which will feature remarks by Vassar College students on the work they are doing in Haiti. The sale runs Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Since 2001, The Vassar Haiti Project has engaged thousands of people in the support of Haitian art. The resulting proceeds have funded sustainable development in Chermaitre and dozens of surrounding villages in the northwest mountains of Haiti.
Former Capitol Hill resident and Vassar Haiti Project Board Member Jackie Eiting has participated in several trips to Haiti. “VHP is the best of organizations to contribute to,” she said. “The development work we do in Haiti is amazing, but the fact that college students do that work and learn what it is to be a truly global citizen is the cherry on the cake.”
Conditions in Haiti right now are the most challenging since the 2010 earthquake. Gas is $16 a gallon, roadblocks prevent travel on the major roads, and violent protests keep people in the city sheltering in place.
Yet in the face of these elements, the medical staff at the Vassar clinic continues to treat patients, the primary school in Chermaitre remains open, artists continue to produce extraordinary works of art, and the incredible team of student leaders remains as committed as ever to seek ways to support partners in Haiti during this time of great need.
“As the Haitian Kreyol saying goes,” says VHP co-founder Andrew Meade, “Tipa tipa, wazo fe nich li. Step by step, the bird builds its nest.”
“With the help of the public and of our volunteers, we will continue to partner with the amazing people of Haiti to create positive, sustainable change – tipa tipa, step by step.”
Plans for 2020 include building capacity in the medical clinic through the addition of a solar-powered laboratory, planting 10,000 trees to support environmental and food security, and launching an adult education program that will bring literacy and life skills to an entire generation in a village that never had the opportunity to attend school.
“The planning committee of St. Mark’s has so warmly welcomed us back to the community as if we are family!” says VHP Co-founder Lila Meade. Vassar College students and alumnae/i work collaboratively with the generous parishioners for six months to plan this event. “We work hard and celebrate our shared vision to help make the villagers more educated, financially independent and nourished. It takes a village to support a village!”