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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

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.

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“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



Jan 12th, 2014

Reflections Four Years After the Earthquake

Dear Friends,

Today is the fourth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  The words below from Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, sum up the reality on the ground and how your donations continue to save lives and offer hope in the midst of ongoing suffering.

Food Program KidsWe are so grateful for our grassroots, community-based partnership with Na Rive,which makes it possible for your donations to impact the children we serve directly and effectively day after day.

Thank you for your ongoing support and for holding the Haitian people in your thoughts and prayers today and every day.

To quote Lavarice, “Now we start a new year.  We keep working for humanity.  Even when it’s difficult, we do not lose hope. We thank all the What If donors for making this possible and for being in solidarity with us.”

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


Reflections from Lavarice Gaudin, Program Director, Na Rive
Lavarice
It’s been four years and there have been many promises for Haiti, but they have not really come true.  Many words have been said, but the people are still in tents, still hungry, still out of work, still suffering.

With the What If? Foundation’s partnership with Na Rive, it’s not about powerful words that we say, it’s about powerful work that’s happening right here on the ground day after day.

Four years after the earthquake your donors are keeping the children alive with food, helping our children go to school, and supporting us as we teach them how to fish, so they are not just receiving a fish.  

Tents Next DoorSo for us in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood, there has been progress and hope.  We thank everyone who has come to our side and accompanied us with their support and love both before and after the earthquake.

But for Haiti in general, nothing much has been accomplished compared with all the promises. Another year and the people have been struggling for 365 days all over again.

A lot of people next door to us live in tents.  Their children come to the food program.  They are afraid that they will be forcibly removed like other tent communities. Where are they going to go?

kids coming to fpThere is a lot of frustration.  The people wonder where the money has gone that was pledged from other countries and that was given to large NGOs after the earthquake and why people still suffer especially if the money was raised in their name.  They thought they might get housing.  But it’s been four years and there’s been so little housing built.   They thought there might be jobs.  But the few jobs that have come from new factories don’t offer livable wages.

In the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood, where the programs supported by What If take place, most of the houses are very small and there are ten or fifteen people living in two rooms.  Many families that lost their homes in the earthquake have moved in with relatives so you have a grandma with her four children and their children all living together.  There’s too little room, too many people, and they are struggling to eat.  Still, they consider themselves fortunate because they are not under a tent and their children can come to the food program.

Boys EatingOn Sunday, we will have a vigil for those who lost their lives in the earthquake, including many students who died in a school that collapsed in Ti Plas Kazo.

We will keep praying and keep working. For 14 years children have received food every week and been put into school thanks to the What If? Foundation.  This is such a blessing for us and everyone in Ti Plas Kazo.

Now we start a new year.  We keep working for humanity.  Even when it’s difficult, we do not lose hope.  We thank all the What If donors for making this possible and for being in solidarity with us.  

“Men anpil chay pa lou” – Many hands make the load lighter,

Lavarice



Dec 31st, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy near year header

Dear Friends,

As 2013 comes to a close, we thank you for remembering the What If? Foundation in your year-end giving. We’re reminded every time we look at the photos below of what a critical difference your donations make in the lives of countless girls and boys in Port-au-Prince.  “Lespwa Fe Viv” — “Hope Makes Life”

On behalf of What If, our Haitian partners, Na Rive, and the children we seek to lovingly serve, we thank you for your generosity and wish you a happy, healthy New Year!

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

Photo Collage



Dec 20th, 2013

Happy Holidays: A Special Christmas Meal at the Food Program

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Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

Next week, on Christmas Day, more than 1,000 girls and boys will gather under the food program tent in Port-au-Prince for a special meal. As always, it will be cooked and served with love by our Haitian partners, Na Rive.

“Christmas Day is a big day for us every year because most of the children who come to the food program don’t have anything else. The meal is their only present, their only food of the day, so we always try to make it extra special. We want to make the children happy, especially on Christmas, so they know they are loved and have not been forgotten. We thank the What If? Foundation donors for making this possible!”  -Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director
Holiday mealWith a special donation from you, we can feed these beautiful children on Christmas day and every weekday throughout the year. If you have already sent in a gift to support the food and education programs, know how deeply grateful we are for your support.
Make a Donation

As 2013 comes to a close, all the children of the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood join us in wishing you much love, health and happiness for the holidays and in the New Year.

With gratitude,
The What If? Foundation board of directors, staff,
and our Haitian partners, Na Rive