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What If? Blog

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.



Aug 25th, 2017

Celebrating Cadet, a Na Rive scholar

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

cadetoneNa Rive scholarship student Cadet Fridelène will not be returning to school this year. And it’s for the best possible reason: she graduated in June!

Cadet is entering a world of possibility that would not be open to her without your support. She is a wonderful example of the intelligence, determination, and hope that our partner, Na Rive, see in their students every day. And as you’ll hear from Cadet, the financial support and encouragement she received over the last six years has changed the course of her life.

The Father Jeri School begins its second academic year in just a couple of weeks. With your support, we can change the lives of many more children and expand the grade levels offered at the school so students like Cadet can proudly graduate in their own community.

Help us pave the way to graduation day for the next generation of Ti Plas Kazo. 

Make a Donation
Congratulations, Cadet!
Hello! Thank you very much.

cadet threeHow long have you lived in Ti Plas Kazo?
I was born there, but had to move to Tabarre five months ago because my mom got a job there. We had to leave the house my grandmother lives in and everything I knew and was used to, which was hard.

How long have you been part of the Na Rive programs?
I’ve received scholarship support from Na Rive for six years, and have also attended the summer camp and field trips. I took music classes at summer school and I’ve been to museums, the library — I even took my first trip to the beach, all through Na Rive. I would be in a very different place without them.

What is your favorite subject? Why?
Philosophy. It was my last subject in school, so I made an extra effort for it so I could finish my studies.

Who is your favorite teacher? Why?
My physics professor. I just love physics.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I would like to have a job to take care of my family. I’m the eldest and my family is so poor so I want to provide for them. If I could keep studying, I would like to do business administration or accounting.

What do you think about the new Father Jeri School?cadet two
It’s amazing! I have lived in Ti Plas Kazo all my life, and there has never been anything else like this. I like everything about it: the beautiful building, the rules that teach students respect and leadership, the competent teachers. It’s excellent! I am excited for my younger friends who will be able to study there.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
Finishing school! I am the first to finish school in my family so it’s like a dream come true.

Students like Cadet represent the future of Haiti — they inspire us to do more, think more, give more.

Make a Donation
We wish all students a wonderful start to the school year, both in Haiti and wherever you call home. Stay tuned for more news about the Father Jeri School in the coming weeks!

With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director
whatiffoundation.org


Aug 10th, 2017

Happy campers at the Father Jeri School

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

2017 first day of summer campIt’s summer again, and we’ve got a happy group of campers.

While their parents are working hard in the heat of Haitian summer, these 485 children, ages 3-19, spend the day painting, cooking, sewing, knitting and learning computer skills — along with a host of other fun and valuable activities. Every camper also receives a nutritious lunch and plenty of time to play games with their friends.

What If has funded the summer camp since 2003, but this is the first year it has taken place at the Father Jeri School. And while it has been a beloved program since the beginning, both campers and staff report that it’s even better in its new location.

lava kid art closer upWe are all enjoying camp at the school. Each activity has its own dedicated classroom now, so there are fewer interruptions and more space to concentrate on learning. The children are thriving!” says Program Director Lavarice Gaudin.

Another wonderful first is the energy and involvement of new Father Jeri School teachers. Some are helping with the summer camp classes, and others are providing exam prep for Father Jeri students who need the extra help. Seeing the students in summertime gives the teachers fresh perspective to take into the next school year.

2017 summer pink girl eatBut amid all the newness, one thing remains constant: the enthusiasm of the kids. Some of the older campers have been attending since they were little. They love it so much that they keep coming back — to learn something new, help with the younger children, and eat a nutritious meal every day.

Summer camp may seem ordinary to those of us who live in the US, but it’s impossible to overstate how special this program is in Haiti. Positive learning environments are inaccessible for most families during the school year, much less the summer.  Knowing that their children are safe, nourished and happy means everything to these parents.

It’s your generosity that makes camp possible. Thank you for all that you do to support the children of Ti Plas Kazo. 

I hope you and your family are enjoying your own summer fun.

With gratitude,

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director
whatiffoundation.org



Jun 7th, 2017

Celebrating students, progress and possibility

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

Spring is graduation season all over the world. But in Haiti, very few children have the opportunity to finish school. Half of Haitian children do not attend school at all. And of those who do, 60% don’t make it to sixth grade given the low number of schools and high tuition costs.

That’s why providing children with educational opportunities is central to the work of Na Rive and the What If? Foundation. And it’s one of the reasons we are so grateful to you.

Since 2001, you’ve helped 1,989 scholarship students pursue an education at schools around Port-au-Prince. Students like Katty, who is now a licensed accountant and has come back to work at the Father Jeri School.

katty close up

“I am grateful to every single one of you who have helped fund my education. Having the opportunity to graduate and find a job was possible because of you. There are many children in this neighborhood with big dreams just like me. They can help build a better future for Haiti.” 

Katty Pamphil – Accountant at the Father Jeri School and Past What If? Scholarship Recipient

girl red AR2017
Last year, the opening of the Father Jeri School transformed Na Rive’s capacity to provide education for the children of Ti Plas Kazo. As you’ll read in our 2016 Annual Report, 188 students are preparing to celebrate the end of their first school year at the Father Jeri School. This is a very special moment in our history which we couldn’t have achieved without your support.

 

But there is still much work to be done. Setting the school up to succeed is our number one goal and these first few years are a critical time for the future of the school and its programs.

While Na Rive works tirelessly to ensure the school is up and running, there are many areas in need of support. Funding for scholarships and salaries is imperative to bring more students and teachers into the school. Classrooms are in need of more textbooks and supplies. Unreliable public electricity means a generator is essential to an uninterrupted school day. Resources to cover gas, water, and transportation costs — all of which are very expensive in Haiti due to lacking infrastructure – are necessary to keep things running. And expanding the curriculum one grade at a time, so that the school can soon prepare students all the way from Pre-K to high school, will tremendously increase Na Rive’s ability to equip these children to create their own future.

Invest in the future of the Father Jeri School and its students.

donate button

Make a donation today.

On behalf of Na Rive and all our friends in Ti Plas Kazo – the children and families at the food program, the students, teachers, and staff at the Father Jeri School, and the graduates working in the community – we send you our sincere and heartfelt thanks. Your compassion is changing lives, transforming a community, and making a meaningful difference in Haiti.
With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director