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What If? Blog

Feb 28th, 2018

A Lesson in Pride and Hope

big group citadel_2People all over Haiti celebrated Carnival in February –but few had the chance to use the holiday as a learning opportunity. While most schools closed their doors to steer clear of the revelry, 148 students and 12 teachers from the Father Jeri School took a trip to Cap Haitien to experience their nation’s history.

A port city on the north coast filled with beautiful colonial architecture, Cap Haitien was the original capital of Haiti, and later, a key location in the Haitian Revolution. Wearing matching t-shirts, the students toured moments in history Citadellethey’d only read about. They visited the Citadelle, a fortress built in 1805 by Henri Christophe, one of the country’s most prominent leaders. They stepped into Bois Caiman, site of the first major slave insurrection of the Haitian Revolution. And they stood on the ground of The Battle of Vertieres, which led to the independence of Haiti in 1803 — the first successful slave revolution in history. At the end of each day, the group got together to ask questions, share their thoughts, and reflect on their heritage.

School trip t shirtsFew American students get the opportunity to tour their nation’s capital, and in Haiti it’s even less common. It was the first trip to Cap Haitien for almost everyone – including the teachers. Even Madame Phillipe, who taught history at a very prestigious school in Port-au-Prince for eight years, was never given the opportunity to experience history like this. Now both teachers and students have a personal connection to these places, making the teaching more engaging and the lessons more meaningful.

With their amazing resourcefulness, our Haitian partner, Na Rive, was able to secure transport as well as free lodging at a local school. To cover the cost of meals, each family was asked to contribute 183 Haitian Dollars, or $2.65 US, but no one was turned away for lack of funds. Na Rive believes strongly in the role nutrition plays in education, whether the kids are in school or away from it.

Trips like this illustrate how the Father Jeri School is pursuing its mission to foster and inspire the next generation of Haiti’s leaders. At a time when others question the value of this country, your contributions are creating education, pride, and hope for the future.

Jan 29th, 2018

Haiti: A Country of HOPE

Jan_2018_eblast waterfall2If you’ve been listening to the news lately, or watching our social media feeds, you know that Haiti has been in the headlines.  It seems some people have a very different view on the country we know and love. Perhaps they haven’t seen the same Haiti we have.

A country with a proud history of freedom and independence – a history inextricably linked to our own.

A place of incredible beauty and creativity.

A people with a bright, bold, indomitable spirit.

A future filled with youth, energy, and hope.  This is the Haiti we know and cherish. This is the Haiti we celebrate and support.
jacmel carnival photo web

We’ve shared many stories with you of the children and families your donations support – as well as the leaders, teachers and volunteers who are making change happen in Ti Plas Kazo. We’ll keep sharing these stories for as long as there is a What If? Foundation.And today, we ask that you do the same.

Forward the emails, share our website filled with dreams aspired to and dreams fulfilled. Share these stories of children learning to become leaders in their school, community, and country. Tell everyone you know that Haiti is a place of incredible resilience, community, and beauty.
Berto and children IFO school

Together, we can do our part to change the narrative about Haiti. Because the best answer to ignorance is knowledge. The best counter to pessimism: HOPE.

Hopefully your friends, family and colleagues will be inspired to get involved, as you have. If nothing else, they’ll have an accurate glimpse of a country and a people that have continuously inspired us since our first visit 18 years ago. Hope defines Haiti like no other place we’ve seen. We share that hope, and together we can help it grow.  Together we can build on that hope and support Haiti’s efforts towards a better future.

Dec 23rd, 2017

Share the holiday spirit

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

fabiola baby plates of fooodChristmas is coming, and the Na Rive kitchen is as busy as can be. Every year on Christmas day the cooking team serve a special meal to over 1,000 children in Ti Plas Kazo.

These children don’t have much — the meal is most likely their only gift, and like so many other days, their only sustenance. This special day at the food program tells them that they are loved, and have not be forgotten.

For children who cannot make it to the meal, Na Rive staff ties up gifts of rice and beans to take home, so families can share Christmas dinner together.

It’s been a challenging year, but the holidays are a moment of sharing and gratitude. We celebrate with our community – our brothers and sisters — and say thank you to all of our friends who support us and our children.
-Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

food pantry holiday bags 3Meanwhile, the students and teachers at the Father Jeri School are celebrating the end of exams, and looking forward to the holidays.

It is a time of much joy, love and gratitude in Ti Plas Kazo. We send our heartfelt thanks to you for bringing so much cheer to the lives of these children during the holidays, and every day.

On behalf of everyone in Ti Plas Kazo, we wish you much health and happiness in 2018.

With gratitude,

The What If? Foundation staff, board, and our Haitian partner Na Rive

Dec 6th, 2017

Take a moment to remember Fabiola

Dear Friends,

fabiola baby plates of fooodI hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, friends, and good memories.

I also hope you’ll take a moment to remember Jean Marc, Fabiola, and all the children who rely on the nourishment the food program provides. On my last trip to Haiti, I witnessed brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, and best friends come together around mealtime. Your donations feed hungry children while creating a vital moment for family and community.

If you’ve recently made a donation, thank you for your generosity. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please donate today, and share this email with friends and family who might like to make a difference in the life of a Haitian child.

boy at desk nov 2017Gifts of all sizes can have a meaningful impact. $25 feeds seven children for an entire week. $350 can provide a year’s education for an elementary school student at the Father Jeri School. Every dollar creates possibilities that would not exist for these children otherwise.

Our partner in Port-au-Prince, Na Rive, gives thanks to you. They feel the difference you make every day. Your donations enable them to provide nutrition, education, and hope to the children in their community. Your loving support is helping them build a better future for their country – one child, one lesson, one step at a time.

On behalf of The What If? Foundation board and staff, we thank you again for all that you do for the children of Ti Plas Kazo.

With gratitude,

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director

Nov 21st, 2017

Sharing your heart, and a meal, with children

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

jean marc food programI just returned from Haiti. As always, I was deeply touched by the food program run by our Haitian partner, Na Rive, and so lovingly supported by all of you. It may seem simple to say, but these meals don’t just feed hungry children. They nourish and strengthen the bonds of family, friendship and community.

Bonds like the one between Jean Marc and Evens (in the photo above). Jean Marc is such a loving big brother, he made sure little Evens finished every last spoonful of his meal. Jean Marc then politely returned their plates, gave me a giggling high five, and walked his little brother home. It was clear that these boys are the best of friends.

fabiola food programThe next day I met Fabiola and Marie, seen here holding their baby brother Wilson. They are so attached to Wilson that they took turns holding him all through the meal. I helped Fabiola put their leftovers in a plastic sack for eating later or sharing with family back home. Her mother smiled proudly to see her children taking such good care of each other.

On the last afternoon, I shared a laugh with Wilguens and Lovely, two boisterous kids horsing around like children do. Lovely’s family was displaced by the removal of the tent encampments last year, so these two hadn’t seen each other in awhile. They flashed their brightest, biggest smiles (as you can see below) when the food was served, and kept joking with each other throughout the meal. Their happiness was infectious.

Wilguens lovelyThanks to your donations, these children — and so many others in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood — can share a hot nutritious meal five days a week. And thanks to the food pantry Na Rive started, displaced families like Lovely’s can also cook food at home when they can’t make it to the daily meal. Since 2000, What If? Foundation donors have provided nearly five million meals to some of the world’s most vulnerable families.

Each meal costs 65 cents. With your help, we can transform hunger into hope for these children.   Please donate today.  

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Food and family matters in Haiti now more than ever. Nearly one third of parents aren’t sure where the next meal will come from. And with three hurricanes decimating the agriculture industry in the last 14 months, reliable nourishment will be even harder to come by.

During my visit, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Piard, who has been working with Na Rive for several years as their medical partner in Ti Plas Kazo. He says nearly all the children he sees are suffering from malnutrition in some way.

Piard at IMJ“Iron deficiency, anemia, stomach ulcers, stunted growth, stomach pain…it’s all due to malnutrition. Most of the children go to school hungry because their parents aren’t able to provide food for them. The hot meal they receive from Na Rive is often the only one they’ll eat that day — it’s crucial to their growth and development.Dr. JR Piard, Medical Director, The Delmas 31 Medical Clinic

So many Haitian parents feel the heartache of knowing that their children aren’t getting all the nutrition they need to grow and learn. I saw the relief in the faces of these mothers and fathers as their children sat down to eat. The food program is the one moment in the day when we can give these parents some much-needed peace of mind, and some hope for the future. Because food is the first step to health. To learning. To children finding the strength and courage they need to move forward.

Help us feed some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Any size contribution makes a difference.

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As we approach our own family holidays, I am filled with gratitude for you. For all that you’ve contributed to the lives of these children, and for your understanding that community isn’t confined to one place or one people, but something that can and should thrive beyond borders. Thank you for sharing your heart, and a meal, with the families of Ti Plas Kazo.

 Happy Thanksgiving!