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What If? Blog

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
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!

Suzanne

 



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.

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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.

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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.