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What If? Blog

Oct 11th, 2017

The gift of a great teacher: meet Madame Fils

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

Madame fils and classMany of us have experienced the miracle of a great teacher. We stand with our Haitian partner, Na Rive, in the belief that every child should have that same transformative opportunity. Program Director Lavarice Gaudin and his team are focused on assembling a staff of exceptional educators at the Father Jeri School. Madame Marie Fils is a wonderful example.

Madame Fils started teaching first grade at the Father Jeri School last year and quickly became a favorite among students, parents, and colleagues. I had the opportunity to see her in the classroom, and was struck by her warm, dynamic approach. She’s incredibly engaging, teaching fundamentals with a passion and joy that captivates the kids and earns their respect.

“I love Madame Fils. She is the best teacher I’ve ever had. I love how she teaches us French. It’s my favorite subject and I like when I get to write on the chalk board.”
Cherlene, age 8

Madame Fils brings deep expertise to her role at the Father Jeri School. She’s been a teacher in Haiti for more than 10 years, and has held teaching positions at several well-respected schools. But it was the mission of the Father Jeri School that inspired her to make a move.

I left a higher salary to come here, because I feel part of something bigger. We are creating an excellent education for children who otherwise would not be able to go to school at all.”
Marie Fils, Head Primary School Teacher, Father Jeri School

You can be part of the Father Jeri School’s mission to provide education and opportunity to impoverished children. Make a donation today.

Mdme Fils eblastMadame Fils  says she loves coming to work every day. “The atmosphere here is very positive, and the structure of the school is built for purpose. Everything is designed with the intention of helping these children become leaders in their community.”

And the school loves her. Program Director Lavarice Gaudin was so impressed with Madame Fils that he recently promoted her to Lead Elementary School Teacher. “She works so hard to help her students, especially the ones who are having trouble. She’s done such a wonderful job that she is now a key part of the team, helping the school’s administration with managing the elementary grades.”

Many parents at the Father Jeri School never had the chance to get an education, so providing one for their children means even more. Madame Fils understands this responsibility well. “A lot of people count on us, especially the parents. I want them to know how much we care for these children. We are all working very hard to give them an education that provides them with better opportunities for the future.”

Together, we can bring more great teachers like Madame Fils into the lives of these children. Make a donation today

Going back to school has been a rare bright spot in Haiti this fall – a moment of hope amid hurricane season, political conflicts, and the everyday stresses that touch all Haitians. We are honored to be able to support our partner, Na Rive, as they foster a brighter future for the children of Ti Plas Kazo, and we wish a successful school year for students and teachers everywhere.

With gratitude,
Suzanne

 

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director


Sep 28th, 2017

The Father Jeri School is back in session

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

170920 girl front line cuDespite the uncertainty of hurricane season, our partner Na Rive is determined to carry on in building Haiti’s future. The Father Jeri School started classes as planned the first week of September. Program Director Lavarice Gaudin is happy to report that enrollment has increased 60% from last year. Word is spreading quickly about the Father Jeri School

You can open the door to education for children in the Ti Plas Kazo community. Help us ensure the Father Jeri School’s success by making a donation today.

Make a Donation button

We caught up with Lavarice and asked him to share his vision for the new school year.

Hello Lava! Congratulations on your second school year!

Thank you! Our first year was incredible. We learned so much. And we look forward to making this next year even better. We are so grateful for the support of the What If? Foundation’s donors in making it all possible.

What are you most excited about?Lava interview

There is so much interest in the Father Jeri School from students, parents, teachers, and community members. I keep hearing that this can be the best school in Haiti. We are working hard to make sure that this is true.

That’s wonderful! What are your goals for the year ahead?

We plan to keep focusing on early education – pre-kindergarten and the early elementary years. Our pre-kindergarten classrooms are unique in Haiti. The small class size, colorful rooms, and playful project-based way of teaching the fundamentals – it all sets the Father Jeri School apart. For the higher grade levels, we are making sure our students are prepared to succeed in the government exams and continue to progress in their education.

What is the most important ingredient for the school’s success?

The quality of the education. The pretty school building is not enough, it’s the high quality education that makes the school even more beautiful. We also want to add the final grade of secondary school next year, so our students can begin and complete their education at the Father Jeri School.

It’s so important to build a strong foundation — starting with pre-kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. We are fostering leaders, not followers, and this requires consistent excellence.

What are your biggest challenges?

Having enough resources to pay teachers and purchase school materials. There’s so much that we need, and prices keep rising in Haiti. Finding ways to bring technology into the classroom. And continuing to support the students beyond academic achievement — providing them with the nutrition and energy to learn. We pray that with the help of our big sister What If, we will make it happen. Little by little, we are on our path to becoming the best school in Haiti – and creating a better future for our students.

Together, we can provide the tools for the Father Jeri School’s success. Please make a contribution today.

donate button

For all of you who have already donated, thank you. Know that you are making a life-changing difference for these students. I will be visiting Haiti at the end of next month, and will be sure to come back with more pictures and stories from a joyous school year. In the meantime, I hope your autumn is off to a promising start.

With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director



Sep 25th, 2017

Surviving hurricane season

Dear Friend of the What If Foundation,

Irma_Haiti0010 JAIWe are so grateful that Haiti was spared the worst of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It sounds as though all of our friends in the Ti Plas Kazo community are safe, and there has been no damage to the Father Jeri School building. It could have been so much worse.

But challenging times lie ahead. Last week Hurricane Maria struck a familiar path through northern Haiti, causing severe flooding that left three dead while decimating any crops that were left after Hurricane Irma hit two weeks ago. The farmers there are still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Mathew; now the topsoil has been washed away, and the ground is so saturated that replanting will be a struggle. Food prices are rising for the entire country as a result, adding to the hunger so many families already face. And hurricane season isn’t over for another couple of months.

In times like these, we remember the motto of our friends: piti piti na rive. Little by little, we will arrive. It is a beautiful day in Port-au-Prince. We count our blessings today and say a prayer for a better tomorrow.



Sep 8th, 2017

Haiti, Irma, and the aftermath

We’ve just heard the latest news from our Haitian partner, Na Rive. Thankfully, Haiti was spared the eye of the storm and there have been no reports of casualties yet. Port-au-Prince faced strong winds and rain, but nothing like the devastation of Hurricane Mathew. Our community in Ti Plas Kazo remains safe and the Father Jeri School has not sustained any visible damage, which means the staff, students, and teachers can get back to preparing for the start of school next week.

All very good news. And we are very grateful.

post - IrmaBut the damage sustained in the north and northwest will likely affect the whole country‘s food supply. Agriculture there was hit hard by Category 5 winds: crops ruined, whole banana plantations leveled. And hurricane season is far from over – Hurricane Jose is already at Category 4, and gathering steam over the Atlantic.

Every time another weather event hits anywhere in Haiti, it strains an already fragile agriculture system – farmers and their fields never have the resources or time to recover. Every day the food prices go up, and the availability and supply goes down. The staples people used to be able to buy regularly, like bananas and plantain, were already becoming rare before Irma struck.

All of which will make Na Rive’s food program critically important in the coming weeks. Our community in Ti Plas Kazo – and people throughout the country – will face more food scarcity than they already do. Thank you for your unwavering support as we stand by our friends in Haiti, no matter what comes their way.



Sep 6th, 2017

Hurricane Irma is coming

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 4.25.26 PMHurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, is battering the eastern Caribbean and is projected to hit Haiti Thursday night or Friday morning. The Haitian government has closed schools and government offices around the country and is warning people to stay at home and off the roads.

Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, is working hard to secure the Father Jeri School and minimize damage when the storm hits. The biggest threat facing the school is flying debris, so it is critically important to close up the classrooms, protect supplies, and cover all glass windows.

The northern part of the country is expected to be hit the hardest, but as Lavarice explained, whether the storm hits in the north or the south, the whole of Haiti will suffer.

“Every year Haiti gets struck by natural disaster, and there is never enough support in place to help people recover. Last year hurricane Mathew devastated the South. The year before, the north was affected by both drought and floods. Farmers lost their crops and livestock, making food unaffordable and unavailable to most Haitians. We pray for storm Irma to pass us by and give our country and people a break.”

Please keep Haiti in your thoughts and prayers. We will provide updates on the storm as new information becomes available. All contributions will go immediately toward preparation for the storm and its aftermath. If you can help with a donation, it will surely go far.