What If? Blog
Nov 26th, 2013
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
This family of three comes to the food program almost every day. The mother’s name is Behatrice. She’s been bringing her children to the food program ever since the 2010 earthquake.
Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive’s program director, spoke with Behatrice last week about the difference the meals you fund make in her children’s lives. This is what she said:
“We are living with the grace of God and this food program. I don’t know what we would do without these meals. There are ten of us living in two small rooms. If some of our children are not able to come, the cooks usually give me some food to take home with me.”
Please help us continue to provide meals and educational opportunities to children in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince by making a donation today.
Our 13-year collaboration with our Haitian partners, Na Rive, ensures that your gift will have a direct impact. We are so grateful for our partnership, which is a model of sustainable development through community-based, Haitian-led programs that are effectively serving the most vulnerable.
During Lavarice’s conversation with Behatrice, she reflected on her children’s future:
“I have not been able to go to school myself, but my children have hope thanks to these programs. God bless Na Rive and the What If? Foundation. Thank you for remembering us.”
At this time of Thanksgiving, we give thanks for you and for your continued commitment to the lives of the children we serve. Thank you for your trust, for your generous support, and for holding What If, Na Rive, and the people of Haiti in your heart.
“Lespwa fe viv” — “Hope makes life”,
Margaret Trost Suzanne Alberga
Founder, What If? Foundation Executive Director, What If? Foundation
Oct 31st, 2013
Dear Friends and Supporters of “Building the Dream”,
I am excited to share with you a progress report on “Building the Dream”. It’s been about a year since we launched this very important project to build a kitchen/cafeteria and school on the land we purchased after the earthquake. You are one of the more than 80 people who have helped this project grow wings and take flight. Thank you for your generosity and your spirit, which have supported our efforts from the beginning.
As you’ll read in the report on the backside of this letter from our new Executive Director, Suzanne Alberga, a number of crucial construction steps have been completed over the last year and we remain as determined as ever to bring this dream to reality for the children of Ti Plas Kazo.
Thanks to you and others, we are more than half way to our $1.2 million goal! We have raised $668,129! This means that we will be able to complete the kitchen as well as the cafeteria/multi-purpose space so that the food program can finally move out from beneath its rain-drenched tarp in the new year!
Our immediate goal is to raise an additional $29,000 by the end of December. If we can do this, the money will be matched 1:1 by an anonymous donor, doubling the impact. This total will bring us to the point where we will also be able to complete the first school building for Kindergarten through Third Graders! This building will house the afterschool program as well.
As we focus on reaching this goal while continuing to raise funds for the food and education programs, we invite your ideas, your connections, your prayers, and your support. As you know, the What If? Foundation has, from the very beginning, believed in miracles. We believe in the power of love. We also know that the urgency of the situation in Haiti is calling out for a response, and so we are moving into the new year 2014 as we always have done, with passionate hearts and a determined spirit.
Thank you for your love, your encouragement and support. This old Haitian proverb remains eternally true: “Men anpil chay pa lou.” (Many hands make the load lighter.)
With great hope for all that lies ahead,
Founder, What If? Foundation
Dear “Building the Dream” Friends…
It’s hard to believe that more than one year has gone by since the launch of the “Building the Dream” project. As Margaret mentioned, we are making good progress, step by step.
We have a top-rate team in place that is working conscientiously every day to ensure that the school and kitchen/cafeteria will be safe and sustainable. The lead architect, Martin Hammer, from Builders without Borders is currently in Haiti and says that the project’s hurricane and earthquake resistant design and engineering is a model for the region.
As many of you know, construction projects are complex and take time, especially in Haiti where there is limited equipment, few paved roads, and weather that doesn’t always cooperate. Despite these challenges, over the last year the security wall around the property has been completed, the land – which is on a slope– has been “cut” and prepared for construction, and many other important decisions about materials and engineering have been made.
And, last week, 4 tons of steel rebar was delivered to the site! The rebar has been cut and is now being used for the construction of the first building!
Here are some other project highlights:
- Builders Without Borders architect Martin Hammer negotiated with the British Red Cross the donation of a concrete mixer, saving the project $12,000 and a lot of time as it will replace the need to hand mix concrete.
- Cement samples have been analyzed by Santa Clara University to ensure that the cement being used from Haiti is strong enough for earthquake resistant buildings. Thanks to the research gathered from Santa Clara, the builders have the information needed to make “approved” seismic grade cement.
- The project is using an all-Haitian building crew, including masons and general laborers who are earning a fair wage and learning new skills that will help them earn an income, and support their families both during and after the project is completed.
We have been blessed with your support and commitment to the What If? Foundation and our Haitian partners at Na Rive to make this dream a reality. It is my hope that each of you know what a difference you are making and how important your involvement is to this project. Through it, you are helping change the lives of the children we serve by creating a sustainable space where they can receive a nutritious meal and a high quality education. We share the vision with Na Rive that these children are the next generation of leaders in Haiti.
With deepest gratitude,
Sep 18th, 2013
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
We just received the photos you see sprinkled throughout this message from our Haitian partners, Na Rive. Some are from this year’s summer camp that delighted and inspired 550 children. Others are from the food program where your donations continue to provide nourishment to over 1,000 girls and boys every weekday.
The faces in these photos tell the story of the difference you’re making much more than I can through words.
As you’ll read below in our new Executive Director Suzanne Alberga’s program update, Na Rive is gearing up for the school year and the re-enrollment process of the students we sponsor. Last year, we were able to provide nearly 200 school scholarships thanks to your donations.
We just received the tuition amounts for the 2013/14 school year and they have increased by nearly $50 per student in some cases due to higher school operating expenses and the need for many schools to still make earthquake repairs.
The average cost of elementary school tuition is now $350 per student per year. The cost to feed one child at the food program is about $175 per year (at 67 cents per meal).
Please help us re-enroll the students we sponsor and keep the food program meals funded through your donation today.
Every contribution we receive makes a difference.
Haiti has vanished from most newspapers, but the conditions that make life so difficult for the children remain. In partnership with Na Rive, we are providing hope and opportunity in the community of Ti Plas Kazo. Thank you for your trust and loving support.
Piti piti na rive,
Founder, What If? Foundation
A Message from Suzanne
As Margaret mentioned, this is the time of year that the Na Rive education team shifts focus from their extraordinary summer camp, which completed its 11th successful year in August, to school enrollment.
Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive’s Program Director, shared with me recently that September always brings both joy and heart-break. (Margaret told me that Fr. Jean-Juste used to say the same thing.) Joy in the opportunity to enroll nearly 200 children into school thanks to What If. Children who would otherwise have no way to pay the required tuition.
And heart-break in needing to say “not now” to all the children on the waiting list. As you can imagine, the waiting list is very long since most families in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood do not have the resources needed to send their children to school.
With only 10% of Haiti’s schools being “public”, and tuition rising steadily since the 2010 earthquake for “private” schools, more and more children from impoverished families are excluded from the opportunity to receive an education. This is one of the many reasons we are so determined to build the school that is part of the “Building the Dream” project.
I look forward to sharing more about the 2013-2014 scholarship students and the status of the construction on the new school and kitchen/cafeteria after my next trip to Haiti in October.
Your support is changing the lives of so many children and providing opportunities that they would not otherwise have. Mesi Anpil! (Thanks so much!)
Executice Director, What If? Foundation
Aug 28th, 2013
Students from St. Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, CA recently returned from Haiti, where they got a first-hand look at the Summer Camp and Food Program supported by your openhearted donations.
We’d like to share their insights with you:
“At Na Rive, we witnessed 400 kids, spread out through several buildings, learning academic and practical skills. For most other kids in Haiti, no such programs exist, making it very difficult for education to take root throughout Haiti. Lavarice, the director of the Na Rive programs, showed us many projects, including the crocheting of clothes. We also witnessed computer skills, English, music, cooking, sewing, arts and crafts and braiding.”
The students took the opportunity to conduct one-on-one interviews with some of the older children, to get a sense of what their lives are like and how these programs are creating opportunities. They also conducted interviews with some of the What If scholarship students who work as counselors for the summer camp.
The St. Mary’s students discovered an important fact, as one explains: “Everyone keeps saying the same thing: ‘education is the path to liberation and opportunity and the transformation of the Haitian society.’ They seem to want education for a reason that is slightly different than ours; they want to use education to create a common good that all Haiti can participate in. They never say I want an education to get a job and make a lot of money.”
Another student adds: “From the interviews, there were overwhelming themes that emerged. Each student had aspirations to one day be professionals such as doctors and lawyers, to do what they can do for their people. Every single one of them also possessed a strength, perseverance, and hope for the future.”
We are so proud to share this heartwarming report about the Summer Camp. You can see by the student’s descriptions how your generous donations are making a difference every day in the lives of these children by providing nutritious meals and meaningful educational opportunities. They are so appreciative of your support and are working hard to become Haiti’s next generation of leaders.
You can see more photos of the 2013 Summer Camp in our gallery, by clicking here. Please Scroll down to Summer Camp.
Jul 17th, 2013
It is a pleasure for the What If? Foundation to welcome our newest Board member, Susan Carson. Susan lives in Alameda, CA and brings a wealth of experience from her professional life as a Supervising Deputy Attorney General with the California Office of the Attorney General.
Here, she shares with us what drew her to this opportunity to serve. “I read Margaret Trost’s book, On that Day Everybody Ate, after my daughter was assigned to read it for school. I was so moved by Margaret’s journey and the foundation she started that I vowed to do something when I could. Two years later, when my daughter went to Port-au-Prince with a group from her high school where they visited the programs funded by What If, I felt even more connected.”
Some of you may have read about Susan in a blog post on the student’s journey this past Spring, as she coordinated a great deal of donated supplies – including four laptops and other computer equipment for the after-school program and art supplies for the summer camp.
This special connection led to the opportunity to serve as a member of the What If? Foundation Board. “I’ve always wanted to share my time and treasure with a non-profit that works internationally, and What If is a natural fit. I learned on my first visit to Port-au-Prince in May how desperately needed the food and education programs we fund are to the children in Ti Plas Kazo. Our Haitian partners at Na Rive are so devoted to our shared goals that I vowed to do everything I can to support their efforts to grow these programs. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a member of the Board.”
We’re thrilled to have Susan as part of our What If team!