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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

Sep 8th, 2014

“The Bread of Learning” – meet two of our students

Dear Friends,

With school in Haiti starting this week, we’d like to introduce you to two students whose lives you are changing thanks to your support of the What If? Foundation scholarship fund.

DSC_0268_3Jean Kelly is entering 3rd grade.  He lives in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood with his mother and siblings and attends the food program regularly.

“This year, once again, the What If? Foundation is sending me to school.  I feel very proud, because it is very, very difficult for the poor to pay for school.  For the past five years you have helped me to obtain the bread of learning, which means so much to me and my family.  Thank you.”

Delia is excited to be entering high school:

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“This scholarship is a huge gift from heaven. I am working very hard to excel in my classes to become a woman ready to serve society. Thank you so much to everyone!”

The opportunity to receive an education is something that most children in Haiti do not have.  With only 10% of schools in Haiti being “public”, children without the money to pay “private” school tuition are left out. Only about 25% of students are able to continue beyond 6th grade.

But student by student, this statistic is changing in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood – thanks to you and our partnership with Na Rive. This week, nearly 180 girls and boys are putting on their uniforms and beginning the 2014/15 academic year.

Please help us continue to fund these life-changing scholarships by making a donation today.  Tuition for elementary students averages $350/year. High school tuition averages $500/year.

The Na Rive education team mentors each scholarship recipient, provides additional support through the after-school program, and involves parents to maximize their children’s academic success. The impact is powerful — over 95% of the students we sponsor each year advance to the next grade or graduate!

IMG_2247Education is “the bread of learning” as Jean Kelly says. It is also considered one of the most critical factors in eliminating poverty and creating a more just and peaceful world. Thank you for making this school year possible for Jean Kelly, for Delia and for so many other children in Ti Plas Kazo.

With gratitude for your ongoing support and commitment,

SuzanneSignature        margaret_signature_dark_black
Suzanne Alberga                      Margaret Trost
Executive Director                    Founder


Aug 5th, 2014

“Camp is so very exciting!” – Summer Camp 2014

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
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We are delighted to report that summer camp is in full swing with over 650 children from the Ti Plas Kazo community participating.

For the 12th year in a row, children ages 5 – 18 are enjoying seven weeks of fun and learning through classes in art, cooking, embroidery, music, calligraphy, computer, English, and more.  They also receive a nutritious lunch from the food program.  All this is possible thanks to your donations and the dedication of our partner in Haiti, Na Rive.

“Camp is so very exciting because these children do not have anything else in the summer. At camp, they can socialize with kids they do not know, and learn new skills in the process. At the end of the 7 weeks, they show everything that they’ve made to their families, and we have a big celebration.” – Na Rive Program Director Lavarice Gaudin
arts and craftsThis program is deeply loved within the community, so there are always more children interested than space and resources allow.  But thanks to Na Rive’s creativity and resourcefulness, 100 more children are participating in the camp this year.

What we’re doing is so positive, and all the kids want to be a part of it,” says Lavarice.“Even though over 1000 children wanted to come, we are so happy that we could have 650 participate.” 

These words from an 11-year-old sum up why she loves camp:

SC 2014 embroidery_3 2“ I am in the embroidery class, and am learning how to embroider tablecloths and do other handicraft work. My hope is that I will sell some of the things I make, to help pay for my education.  I am so happy to be at this camp with so many other children!  – Jacqueline

Every member of Na Rive joins us in saying “mesi anpil” – thank you so much for your ongoing support which makes this joy-filled camp possible.

“Lespwa fe viv” – Hope makes life,

SuzanneSignature          margaret_signature_dark_black
Suzanne Alberga                   Margaret Trost
Executive Director                 Founder



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

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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.<

SuzanneAlberga
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

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.