How The What If? Foundation Started
In January 2000, Margaret Trost visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the first time. While there, she volunteered at an orphanage and hospice founded by Mother Teresa. She was inspired by the faith and dedication of the sisters, but overwhelmed by the suffering she saw throughout the city, especially among children. Having a young son of her own, she identified with the children, many of whom experience daily hunger and face disease related to acute malnutrition and the absence of clean drinking water.
During her visit, Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest who served the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, spoke to her about life in Haiti. Despite all the challenges, he had great hope for the future. When he was asked about hunger, he paused and then shared his vision for a food program that would feed the children in his community. He said the children were coming to him every day, their stomach’s aching from hunger, asking if he had any food they could eat.
When she returned to California a few days later, Margaret could not get Fr. Jean-Juste’s vision out of her mind. She thought: “What if there was a way to help his vision become a reality?” She shared her experience in Haiti with family and friends. Seed money began to arrive. Within three months the first meal was served at the St. Clare’s rectory in Port-au-Prince. At first, 500 girls and boys received one nutritious meal every Sunday. After the January 2010 earthquake, more than 15,000 meals were served each week to children and some adults. The food program now provides an average of 6,000 meals each week.
“Piti piti na rive” is Margaret’s favorite Creole saying. Fr. Jean-Juste taught it to her. It means “little by little we will arrive.” The What If? Foundation believes that every act of love makes a difference. Every prayer. Every gift. The Foundation is built in trust that all things are possible and that step by step, caring people can make a difference. We’ve seen the impact one meal makes in the lives of these children. It not only provides desperately needed calories and nutrition, but also hope.
We invite you to join in our efforts to provide hope and opportunity to impoverished children in Haiti.
The What If? Foundation Board of Directors
Bryan Sirchio, Chairman of the Board