Vita History

Under the patronage of Blessed Mother Theresa, Father Kevin Doheny and Father Norman Fitzgerald founded Vita in 1989. 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, whilst increasing the sustainability of people’s livelihoods. Reflecting this change, RTI changed its name to Vita in 2005. Since then, Vita’s geographic focus has moved to Ethiopia and Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa, where it established local offices in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

Vita is honoured to have had the support of the Blessed Mother Teresa as a patron of Vita. This truly inspiring woman understood the power of giving and dedicated her life to helping people in immediate need to become self-sufficient. With her tremendous spirit, she also encouraged our founders, Fr Kevin Doheny and Fr Norman Fitzgerald, to do the same. We are delighted that this year, 2016, her efforts will be recognised and she will become a saint. 

In his autobiography, Vita’s founder Father Kevin Doheny wrote that “our task and our privilege is to build bridges to enable people to cross the gulfs that divide them”. We feel privileged in Vita to serve communities and equally privileged to be able to build bridges to allow Irish and global partners reach out in support. We can only be of help by bringing the very best of values with the very best of technology and partnership. 

Over the years, Vita has developed core expertise in supporting vulnerable families and now works with communities to grow food to feed their families, gain access to water and sustainable household energy and develop skills for sustainable and healthy livelihoods.