VAP at Fort Lewis College is a student-centered, humanitarian organization whose mission is to partner with needy communities in the developing world to find sustainable solutions to their critical engineering problems. In addition, we are training a new generation of students who understand the need for sustainable systems and who value the concept of responsible global citizenship.
We take sustainability very seriously. As a matter of fact, we believe that this is, perhaps, the most important thing we do. If our projects are not sustainable then we are not, in the long run, truly helping these communities. We have developed a sustainability plan that includes our five year commitment, participatory planning by the community, intensive education and training, and the use of appropriate technology. To be a long-term success each system must be appropriate and sustainable within the environmental, social, and economic context of the community and region. Achieving this goal is fundamental to our mission and requires an educational component in our projects that is of equal value to the technical component. VAP does not build systems for communities. We partner with communities, providing the technical and financial resources that allow the villages to reach their goals. Community ownership and capacity building are paramount.
Groups of students under the supervision of faculty and professional mentors work on the projects. By involving students in every step of the process, the program maximizes their learning and awareness of the social, economic, environmental, political, ethical, and cultural impacts of engineering projects. Community members are involved as professional mentors and in other capacities. Each year thousands of hours are volunteered to complete our projects.
The villages that we work with are in remote, undeveloped areas and are frequently without reliable potable water, sanitation, energy or other basic services. Disease and hardship are a way of life for these people. They are primarily subsistence farmers without the financial or technical resources to afford what we consider basic infrastructure.
Students have a unique opportunity to work on real projects and learn about a different cultures. This is an invaluable educational experience that is preparing students to be responsible citizens. Through professional mentors and other local volunteers our goal is to make this a community effort with opportunities for anyone who is interested to help.
Download the brochure (pdf)
We raise all of the funds to pay for the program costs which are about $17,000 for each village. We are an all volunteer organization with less than 1% in over head costs. Please consider sponsoring our work.