Vita History

Under the patronage of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Father Kevin Doheny and Father Norman Fitzgerald founded Vita in 1989. Understanding the importance of self sufficient communities, Saint Teresa inspired and encouraged Father Kevin and Father Norman to develop the same ideologies in their own programmes.

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 European Union.

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 for support from Irish and global partners. Vita’s success is thanks to a combination of resolute values, innovative technology and strong partnership models.

Since 1989, Vita has developed core expertise in facilitating communities to develop sustainable futures by growing food to feed their families, accessing water and household energy and developing skills to forge sustainable and healthy livelihoods.