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Sharing your heart, and a meal, with children

Posted Nov 21st, 2017

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

jean marc food programI just returned from Haiti. As always, I was deeply touched by the food program run by our Haitian partner, Na Rive, and so lovingly supported by all of you. It may seem simple to say, but these meals don’t just feed hungry children. They nourish and strengthen the bonds of family, friendship and community.

Bonds like the one between Jean Marc and Evens (in the photo above). Jean Marc is such a loving big brother, he made sure little Evens finished every last spoonful of his meal. Jean Marc then politely returned their plates, gave me a giggling high five, and walked his little brother home. It was clear that these boys are the best of friends.

fabiola food programThe next day I met Fabiola and Marie, seen here holding their baby brother Wilson. They are so attached to Wilson that they took turns holding him all through the meal. I helped Fabiola put their leftovers in a plastic sack for eating later or sharing with family back home. Her mother smiled proudly to see her children taking such good care of each other.

On the last afternoon, I shared a laugh with Wilguens and Lovely, two boisterous kids horsing around like children do. Lovely’s family was displaced by the removal of the tent encampments last year, so these two hadn’t seen each other in awhile. They flashed their brightest, biggest smiles (as you can see below) when the food was served, and kept joking with each other throughout the meal. Their happiness was infectious.

Wilguens lovelyThanks to your donations, these children — and so many others in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood — can share a hot nutritious meal five days a week. And thanks to the food pantry Na Rive started, displaced families like Lovely’s can also cook food at home when they can’t make it to the daily meal. Since 2000, What If? Foundation donors have provided nearly five million meals to some of the world’s most vulnerable families.

Each meal costs 65 cents. With your help, we can transform hunger into hope for these children.   Please donate today.  

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Food and family matters in Haiti now more than ever. Nearly one third of parents aren’t sure where the next meal will come from. And with three hurricanes decimating the agriculture industry in the last 14 months, reliable nourishment will be even harder to come by.

During my visit, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Piard, who has been working with Na Rive for several years as their medical partner in Ti Plas Kazo. He says nearly all the children he sees are suffering from malnutrition in some way.

Piard at IMJ“Iron deficiency, anemia, stomach ulcers, stunted growth, stomach pain…it’s all due to malnutrition. Most of the children go to school hungry because their parents aren’t able to provide food for them. The hot meal they receive from Na Rive is often the only one they’ll eat that day — it’s crucial to their growth and development.Dr. JR Piard, Medical Director, The Delmas 31 Medical Clinic

So many Haitian parents feel the heartache of knowing that their children aren’t getting all the nutrition they need to grow and learn. I saw the relief in the faces of these mothers and fathers as their children sat down to eat. The food program is the one moment in the day when we can give these parents some much-needed peace of mind, and some hope for the future. Because food is the first step to health. To learning. To children finding the strength and courage they need to move forward.

Help us feed some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Any size contribution makes a difference.

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As we approach our own family holidays, I am filled with gratitude for you. For all that you’ve contributed to the lives of these children, and for your understanding that community isn’t confined to one place or one people, but something that can and should thrive beyond borders. Thank you for sharing your heart, and a meal, with the families of Ti Plas Kazo.

 Happy Thanksgiving!