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Supporting food and education programs for impoverished children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, providing hope and opportunity for a brighter future

What If? Blog

Jun 19th, 2014

Just back from Haiti: A little girl I can’t forget

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

I recently returned from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The sight and sounds of over 1,500 children eating at the food program, scraping their bowls for every last grain of rice, are still very much with me and inspire me to write to you today.

There’s one little girl I can’t get out of my mind. P1010245She’s two years old and comes to the food program with her 10-year-old brother. They walk hand in hand from the tent camp next door, where she was born, and where they live with 32,000 other people. Post earthquake housing is scarce and most families living in the camp are losing hope that they will ever live in a house again.

Thanks to you and our partners in Haiti, this 2-year-old (picture to the right) and her brother and over 1,500 other children have been able to count on a nutritious, hot meal every weekday.

With hunger a daily reality for so many who live in and around this neighborhood, we ask for your ongoing support. Please help us sustain this crucial program as well as the education programs we fund by sending a donation today


Mother and childIn addition to individual donations, we are looking for other nonprofits and faith communities that can help support these programs. If you have any connections or ideas, please contact us. We are committed to forging a sustainable solution to meet this ongoing need.

As you’ll read in our 2013 Annual Report, the resources that we receive and direct to these programs are used extremely effectively. As Na Rive Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, said last week:

“Our partnership is unique. Many agencies arrive when there is an emergency, but then they leave. The What If? Foundation and its donors have been with us for 14 years. We are a model for partnership and, together, we are preparing the next generation of Haitians.”

It is truly a unique partnership, fueled by love and generosity and a shared vision to provide hope and opportunity to these children in Ti Plas Kazo. Thanks to each of you and everyone at Na Rive, we are making a difference, one child at a time. Group of childrenIt poured when I was in Haiti almost every day. Torrential rains turned the roads into rivers. Mud was everywhere. But that little girl came to the food program each day in a dress that hermother had washed to perfection. She came in anticipation of the meal that is helping her grow strong and healthy despite her circumstances in the tent community – a meal made possible thanks to What If? Foundation donors.

On behalf of our founder, Margaret Trost, the members of the What If Board of Directors, and our partners in Haiti, I thank you for your ongoing support, your prayers, and your encouragement.<

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director, What If? Foundation

P.S. Our Monthly Giving Circle is another way to give to What If. Click here for more information.

May 23rd, 2014

Fr. Gerry – Present in Spirit

Dear Friends,

In a few days, on Tuesday, May 27th, the 5th anniversary of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste’s passing will be here.  I’ll never forget that day or the days and months that followed when our hearts were broken as we grieved the loss of this extraordinary leader, man of faith, and advocate for the poor.

For those of you who are new to What If, Fr. Gerry was the person who inspired me to create the What If? Foundation 14 years ago.  His vision for a food program for the hungry children in his community touched my heart and ignited a flame inside me that’s been burning ever since.  He believed in the importance of putting faith into action and in taking small steps to create change.  He believed in miracles.  He believed in speaking out against injustice.  He believed in the power of love.Jean-Juste and 2 helpers

As the 27th nears, my mind keeps replaying the years we worked together when I watched him tirelessly go from morning to night doing all he could to comfort those who were suffering and working towards change on every level.

What If’s Executive Director, Suzanne Alberga, is in Haiti this week visiting the food and education programs that Fr. Gerry started and that are run so well by our partners Na Rive.  On Tuesday, she will travel to Cavaillon, Haiti, Fr. Gerry’s birthplace for a special memorial service and celebration of his life and legacy.

Although five years have passed, I still hear Fr. Gerry’s voice in my heart encouraging me to keep taking steps, no matter how small they may seem, to believe in possibilities and to “never give up, never lose hope”.  “One day,” he said to me back in 2001, “one day, maybe not during my lifetime, but one day, we will get there.”

Piti piti na rive  — little by little we will arrive!


Margaret Trost, Founder, What If? Foundation

May 14th, 2014

WBGO Radio Interview

What If? Foundation founder, Margaret Trost, was interviewed on WBGO radio’s “Take-5″ program.

Click here to listen in.

Mar 20th, 2014

“Crowds of Children” Create Increased Need – Help Us Meet Matching Gift for Food Program

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

As a result of a severe drought in Haiti, the number of hungry children coming to the food program has increased dramatically. Over the last month, our partners have served an average of 1,600 meals/day every Monday -Friday.  That’s 8,000 meals/week – 2,000 more than “normal.” And there is no sign of the numbers going down soon.

children eatingWe need your help to pay for these meals. 

This week marks the 14th Anniversary of the food program, which has served as a critical refuge of hope and nourishment year after year. To honor this anniversary, we are thrilled to share that we just received a $5000 matching gift from a longtime donor!

This means that every dollar you send between now and the end of the month will have twice the impactYour donation will provide twice the number of meals.

The Na Rive cooks are doing all they can to make the meals stretch during this drought. They’ve adjusted the recipe and are serving smaller portions, but sometimes there is not enough and children leave the food program without eating.


“There are crowds of children coming.  When you see them, and they get here, and they have nothing to eat and the tears come out of their eyes because there is nothing left, it hurts you from the bottom of your heart. We keep praying. We believe in miracles.  We work today and do what we can. It is not easy. We do not know what tomorrow brings.”  Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

children waiting at food program


“This food program means so much for the people here.  It is an anchor for the community.  For 14 years it has helped make thousands of children healthier.  It has helped create stability in the neighborhood and has offered hope during such difficult times. Thank you to all the What If? Foundation donors for their love and hearts and all they are doing to help feed those who are hungry.”  Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

Thank you for your support of this matching gift, for forwarding this email on to your friends, and for holding What If, Na Rive, and the children we serve in your heart.

With love and gratitude,

margaret_signature_dark_black                                 suzanne-signature 2
Margaret Trost                                          Suzanne Alberga
Founder, What If? Foundation                 Executive Director, What If? Foundation

Feb 7th, 2014

Remembering Fr. Gerry Today and Always

FrToday is Fr. Gerry Jean-Juste’s birthday.  He would’ve been 68 years old.  I met Fr. Gerry 14 years ago and was so inspired by his vision for social justice and a food program for the children in his community that I created the What If? Foundation.  Although Fr. Gerry passed away in May 2009, his vision for a more just and loving world lives on powerfully through the What If? Foundation and our partnership with members of his community, now called Na Rive.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, On That Day, Everybody Ate, where I share how Fr. Gerry’s commitment to serving the poor and feeding the hungry extended into the Haitian National Penitentiary where he spent many months as a political prisoner in 2004 and 2005 after the coup d’état:

From p. 140  “Recently he shared with me an experience he had while in the Haitian National Penitentiary.  There was an old man who lived across the street from the prison.  Fr. Gerry could see him through the window.  The old man was thin and weak.  Since St. Clare’s parishioners brought food to Fr. Gerry almost every day, he had more than he needed.  He and the old man developed a signal.  At 6:00 every evening, Fr. Gerry would shine his flashlight at the door of the man’s home.  One flash meant bring a small pot.  Three meant bring a huge pot.  The old man came every evening.  Fr. Gerry arranged with the guards to let him in so he could receive whatever food Fr. Gerry was able to offer.  Nearly every evening while Fr. Gerry was in prison, the old man, his wife, and children from the neighborhood had food to eat.  Time and again, Fr. Gerry and the members of St. Clare’s have shown me there is always the opportunity to act and make a difference.  There is always hope.  Little by little!”

Thank you, Fr. Gerry for the way you lived your life and the example you are for us all! I miss you!

Margaret Trost, Founder, What If? Foundation