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What If? Blog

Aug 2nd, 2018

The summer camp tradition continues

camp bannerThe tradition of summer camp continues this year at the Father Jeri School. Last week, 200 campers and teachers made a day trip to Marchand-Dessalines, the “First Black Capital of the World.”

This little-known historical town, named after former slave and Haitian Revolution leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines, served as the original capital of Haiti when the country was founded in 1804. The students toured Dessaline’s former estate, the Palace of 365 Doors, its forts and the surrounding area with a guide who pointed out the historical significance of what they were seeing.kids in front of palace

Madame Marie, who had been raised in the area, had never been to the historical sites. “I feel so lucky that we were able to bring these children to see, touch and live their country’s history. I read about it in books, but no one ever thought to take me there. It makes such a difference.”

When they returned from the trip, the kids got together to share what struck them – the strategic thinking that went into the building of the site, the ingenuity of the building materials and weapons, and the bravery of their country’s first leaders. It provided a stark contrast to their country’s current state, and prompted a discussion about the forces that have driven Haiti in the past – and how the spirit of their founders could guide their future.

As you know, Haiti’s current state includes political uncertainty, civil unrest, and skyrocketing food prices. But that’s no reason to cancel summer camp. As Program Director Lavarice Gaudin says “No matter what Haiti faces, the education of its children cannot – must not – be neglected. Experiencing their history is how they will transform their future.”guide with tshirt

Every day, the children need a hot meal. They need a quality education. They need joy. They need hope that something better is possible. And they need you. The cost of food and gas in Haiti has nearly doubled in the last few weeks alone. Help us continue to give these children the tools to transform their lives, no matter what tomorrow holds.

As always, we are deeply grateful for your compassion, your kindness, and your support.

With love and gratitude,

Suzanne
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Directo


Jul 11th, 2018

Update on protests in Haiti

Dear Friends of What If,

I spoke to Lavarice this morning. So far, the relative quiet from Monday continues.

2017 first day of summer camp“There have been some protests, but they have been more localized. In fact, camp was open today. I just finished having a welcome meeting with new campers where they learned about the program and expectations and also about the Father Jeri School. They are all so excited to be here. They will have fun, learn new skills and have a hot meal every day. This program is especially important during these difficult times in our country. Children should have a safe place where they can just be kids – where they can laugh and play and learn.

We don’t know what will happen later in the week, but we are being very careful to monitor where the protests are and we will do everything possible to keep our kids and our community safe in these very challenging times.

We want to thank you for all your messages and prayers. We are so grateful to know that we are not alone.”

It’s heartbreaking to witness Ti Plas Kazo and all of Haiti pulled into turmoil once again. As always, we stand in solidarity with our Haitian friends, no matter what challenges they face.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and support, Na Rive, the children and the community can feel it.
With gratitude and hope,
Suzanne
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director


Jul 9th, 2018

Protests in Haiti

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

As you may have heard, protests broke out all over Haiti this past weekend in response to a 38% to 51% increase in fuel prices announced by the Haitian government. After several days of widespread protests, violence, and canceled flights, the government temporarily suspended the price hike and has yet to announce how it plans to adjust fuel prices going forward, in order to comply with an International Monetary Fund agreement.

Needless to say, price increases of this magnitude would impact everyone in the country, but the poor would be most deeply affected. With so many Haitians already struggling to purchase food, receive healthcare and access education, a price increase of this nature would be devastating. Although the protests have quieted down for the moment, people are still very anxious and uncertain as to how the government will deal with the situation.

I spoke to Lavarice Gaudin, Director of Na Rive, this morning and here’s what he had to say:

So many essential businesses have been destroyed – supermarkets, hardware stores and hotels have been burned and looted. There is a brief pause today so people can leave their homes and try to get some food, but the unrest is not over. Haitians are so angry. With the increased cost of fuel, prices for everything would go up. Already we have seen the price of rice more than quadruple, and beans and cooking oil have all skyrocketed. Poor people who already don’t have enough money and don’t have jobs now can’t feed their families. They are feeling desperate, like they have no choice, no way out of this situation.

The protests began on Friday afternoon, and people who were at work or school were stuck. Most “sheltered in place” over the weekend. Students and teachers at the Father Jeri School were here from Friday until Sunday when they could get home safely. So far the school is ok, but the future is not certain. The summer camp started last week, but it is temporarily closed until the situation settles down.

We are deeply grateful for your support and hope that the streets will be safe again so the children can begin their summer at ease.

With gratitude,
Suzanne

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director

Read more details in these articles

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article214497129.html
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44764921
https://wtop.com/latin-america/2018/07



Jun 12th, 2018

Helping Davidson find his voice

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

On every trip to Haiti, I meet someone who captures my heart. This time it was Davidson Delima.

Davidson_photo

Davidson is three years old, born and raised in the Ti Plas Kazo community, and a pre-Kindergarten student at the Father Jeri School. He is so sweet and warm, quick to smile and take my hand. But until a few weeks ago, he had never spoken a single word.

Davidson’s mother, Elianette, never received a formal education and is so grateful that her son can attend school. “When he started, he wasn’t able to talk. But now, his teachers and I are starting to see progress. He is trying to count and sing!”

Attending school means that Davidson has a chance to find his voice – and pursue opportunities his parents never had. Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director and Head of the Father Jeri School, is passionate about this point.

“Every child in Haiti represents hope and the future. But they must have an education! We are a small school, but with every child we reach, we can transform a life.”

Let’s ensure Davidson and his peers have the opportunities every child deserves.
Make a donation today.

Madame Erland 3yr 2017-2018Davidson is growing up playful and inquisitive, because every girl and boy in his classroom is nurtured and encouraged. His teachers are seasoned educators like Madame Erland, who is passionate about pre-Kindergarten and child development. She works with his mother Elianette to make sure he gets the support at home to be successful in school.

Davidson will learn to be well-rounded and confident, because his education goes beyond the basic curriculum to experiencing and navigating the world around him. He’ll learn vocational and life skills, and his country’s courageous history will be more than just lines in a textbook. It will be a living lesson, an inspiration.

Thanks to the Father Jeri School, Davidson can pursue a future his parents could only imagine.

And he will stay healthier than many children in his country because of the daily school lunch he receives, one that is packed with nutrients and cooked with love by members of Na Rive‘s food program team.  He also has access to medical care with a nurse on campus every day and weekly visits from a doctor.

boy at computerOur Haitian partner Na Rive is incredibly resourceful, stretching your donations to serve as many students as possible. But there is so much more to do. School supplies are needed to ensure a rich learning environment, yet they are scarce and expensive. A computer lab is essential to modern education, but it’s challenging to keep aging computers running properly. A reliable source of electricity is key to covering basic needs like proper lighting in the classrooms, yet public electricity is intermittent at best. And teachers need competitive salaries and regular training to stay at the top of their field.

Help us support Na Rive as they prepare for the next school year and create new hope for Haiti, one student at a time.

$25 buys one daily meal for a month.
$100 pays for books and supplies for the year.
$350 covers the cost of a year’s tuition for grades pre-Kindergarten through 5th.
$500 pays for a student in 6-11th grades.

Together, we have already made real change happen in Ti Plas Kazo, as you’ll read in our 2017 Annual Report. Let’s maintain the momentum Na Rive has built at the Father Jeri School. With your support, Davidson and his peers will start school again in the fall. And it will be our privilege to watch them grow, little by little, from the hope of Haiti into a bright future.

With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne signature

 

 

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director


Jun 6th, 2018

Joy at the Father Jeri School

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

MT with 3 students outside

A few weeks ago, I walked through the doors of the Father Jeri School for the first time since it opened. To say I felt overwhelmed with joy would be an understatement.  It was everything I imagined and so much more.

I arrived during lunchtime and the sounds of children playing outside and eating in the cafeteria filled the air.  As I stood in the courtyard taking it all in, I remembered back to when the school was just an idea that seemed almost impossible to bring into form.

But here it was in front of me.  Alive and vibrant.  Three stories full of eager students. 351 of them!  Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  8 full-time teachers, 39 subject specific part-time teachers, and 23 staff members.  Everyone engaged in their work.  And food program meals streaming into the cafeteria with hundreds more plates prepared for other hungry children in the neighborhood.  So much going on.  So much energy.  So much school spirit.

Great pic of student at blackboard (1)
I visited chemistry, math, and history classes, enjoyed the enthusiastic singing of the kindergarteners, and watched students practice their dance routine for Haiti’s Flag Day.  Every inch of the school was being used and enjoyed.  Even on the weekends, classrooms are filled with students participating in Na Rive’s after-school program.

Your donations pay for scholarships, teachers, books, and uniforms.  They pay for fuel to keep the generator running and food program stoves burning.  And meals – you pay for hundreds and hundreds of nutritious meals every day that mean everything to a hungry child.  Every donation of every size matters in this work.It was palpable how cherished the Father Jeri School is, how proud the students are to be a part of it, and what an invaluable resource it is for the community.  The school is changing lives, providing hope, making a difference every day.

Throughout my trip, I kept thinking of you and how you’ve helped make all of this possible.  Without your support, this school would have remained just a good idea.

MT and Lava group shotI’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to move an idea into reality.  It takes all of us:  Our extraordinary partner Na Rive, our devoted staff and board at What If, and every one of you.  It’s all of us sharing our hearts and resources, being vehicles of love, united in our desire to make a difference for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

I feel so grateful to be part of this tangible and transformative work.  Thank you for being a part of it too and for your ongoing support of the What If? Foundation.

With love and joy,

Margaret

Founder, What If? Foundation