Thursday September 27, 2012
Last spring Chenoa Olinger, RMCS 5th grader, gave a presentation about her trip to Haiti with Volunteers For Peace (VFP). As she shared slide after slide and told of the similarities and differences between life in South Burlington and rural LaVallee Haiti, teachers and students at RMCS were touched.
“Hearing about the culture and challenges first hand and from a fellow student was very powerful and we decided our community wanted to get involved,” said Principal Sue Luck.
A month-long penny drive and teacher bake sale took place.
“We talk a lot about community and learn about empathy but I was overwhelmed by the response,” shared Principal Luck. “Some students held lemonade sales and donated from their own piggy banks and one student even asked for donations instead of birthday gifts.”
All together the RMCS community donated over $1000 to the Clean Water for LaVallee Project.
In June Meg Brook, director of VFP and RMCS parent, traveled to LaVallee to visit the schools which would receive the donation.
“We require community involvement in our Clean Water project to ensure it is successful and sustainable,” said Brook. The two schools selected serve over 700 students and did not have any clean water for drinking. VFP facilitated the installation of 10 Biosand Water filters in the schools. “The donation from RMCS did much more than just provide these students with clean water,” shared Brook, “we also used this opportunity to launch a youth Water And Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) club at each of their schools.”
VFP volunteer Cara Connors, a teacher from New York with a Masters in Sustainable International Development, led a week long WASH training for youth and oversaw the installation of the filters and painting of a mural in each location.
“The experience was amazing and humbling,” said Connors, “the youth love their country and have great ideas for addressing many environmental challenges. My role was to help them identify projects, build skills, and motivate them to continue to educate their community about the importance of clean water.”
VFP’s projects in Haiti have the theme “Build Who You Are, Where You Are.” For these projects they also incorporated the RMCS motto “Everybody is Somebody” and used that to launch discussions about community action and responsibility.
VFP will be running its next project in this location over Thanksgiving. Families, individuals ages 16+ and small groups are invited to join this 8-day project focusing on building sustainable gardens, supporting activities of the youth WASH clubs, and learning about community development in Haiti. For more information visit VFP.org or call 802-540-3060.
SOURCE: Volunteers For Peace