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First we feed the children

Posted Nov 15th, 2018

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

Lava smiling with student (1)

As we prepare to gather with family and friends around a Thanksgiving meal, I find myself reflecting on a moment that passed in the Father Jeri School cafeteria last week.

Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rivé’s Program Director, shared a conversation he heard as high school students were eating the nutritious daily lunch you make possible. It’s rare for Haitians to talk about hunger, even though it is a daily reality for millions. But on that day, 15-year-old Carmelle expressed what so many feel:

“This food is so important. Without it, how would we make it? What would we do? I’m thankful for the people who provide these meals.”

Carmelle is like so many other Haitian children: her parents both work hard but struggle to survive. They despair every day that their child will go hungry.

What sets Carmelle apart is your continued support.

It was nearly 19 years ago when our food program began serving a single meal a week to 500 of the world’s most impoverished children. With love, perseverance and commitment, the program now serves over 5,000 meals a week: to the students and staff at the Father Jeri School, the hundreds of children who eat every weekday afternoon at the recently built community cafeteria next door, and the dozens of displaced families who visit our food pantry. All these meals, served over all these years, have brought nourishment, hope, and stability to families in Ti Plas Kazo. And none of it would have been possible without you.

For Carmelle, you make all the difference. Help us keep food on the table for her and for the children of Ti Plas Kazo. Just 75 cents of a dollar keep a child from going hungry tomorrow.

boys meals cafe 2

As has been the case from the beginning, food program meals are prepared with great care by Na Rivé’s devoted cooking team. Rice, beans, fresh vegetables and herbs, spices, and the occasional meat or fish are purchased locally, helping Haitian farmers and their families.

Father Jeri School teachers witness the nourishing effects of the food program every day in the classroom. It’s a testament to Father Jeri’s wisdom all those years ago, when he said to What If founder Margaret Trost: “First we feed the children, we keep them alive. Then, we build the school.” The combination of reliable nutrition and excellent education is so essential, and yet rare in Haiti. But we know it works: Father Jeri students achieved an extraordinary 99% pass rate on their government exams last year. A remarkable feat (given the national average is 66%) which has created excitement and pride among the students and the entire community.

“Most schools in Haiti don’t have a lunch program or such high-quality education. This is hurting a whole generation of children. The reality is that having enough food is our most desperate ongoing need in Haiti. Food costs have increased as much as 40% in recent months, and this makes it even more difficult for the poor. People come together to share what they have, but it is never enough. We pray to keep this food program alive, because there is never a single day that it’s not critically important for each and every child.” — Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rivé Program Director

It’s an ambitious goal to fund both the food program and a school that serves children from Pre-Kindergarten through high school graduation. But it’s this unique combination of nutrition and education that makes transformation possible. We are determined and inspired to continue making such a direct difference in so many lives.

Thank you for supporting this fundamental work. Your donation this holiday season will nourish Carmelle’s future, and that of the children and families in her community.

With season’s greetings and gratitude,

Suzanne Alberga