Vita History

Under the patronage of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Father Kevin Doheny and Father Norman Fitzgerald founded Vita in 1989. Understanding the power of giving and a life dedicated to helping people in immediate need to become self-sufficient, Saint Teresa inspired and encouraged Father Kevin and Father Norman to do the same.

Originally called Refugee Trust International (RTI), we focused on providing support to refugees in areas of conflict. As the immediate needs of refugees evolved into long-term development issues, RTI’s focus turned to reducing extreme poverty and vulnerability, and increasing the sustainability of people’s livelihoods.

Reflecting this change, RTI changed its name to Vita in 2005, and the geographic focus moved to Ethiopia and Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, where Vita established local offices in 2005 and 2010 respectively. Vita now has several partners in the region, including Irish Aid and the EU.

In his autobiography, Father Kevin Doheny wrote “our task and our privilege is to build bridges to enable people to cross the gulfs that divide them”. Vita is privileged to serve communities and build bridges to allow Irish and global partners to reach out in support. We are successful by combining resolute values, innovative technology and a strong partnership model.

Since 1989, Vita has developed core expertise in supporting vulnerable families and communities to grow food to feed their families, gain access to water and sustainable household energy and develop skills for sustainable and healthy livelihoods.