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What If? Blog

Jun 23rd, 2019

Help them reach a brighter future

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

This is my first time writing to you as interim Executive Director. I feel honored to connect with you directly and to give voice to the beautiful children and families in Ti Plas Kazo through this role. Today, I’d like to share some news of the critical work you support, and how the lives of the girls and boys we serve are touched by your generosity.The first time I visited the Fr. Jeri School was at the opening ceremony three years ago. I was taken not only by how impressive the building appears in its surroundings, but by the palpable feeling of hope in the hallways. There was a sense of shared humanity to ensure these young boys and girls have a fair chance in life.

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It doesn’t take much to transform a student’s future.
$35 buys a student’s meals for a month
$140 pays for books and supplies for the year
$490 covers the cost of tuition for the year
$3,500 updates the computer lab to help students learn valuable income-generating skills.

I was also taken by the hope in the students themselves. Children like Rolda Laroque, a bright and charming 11 year-old, bubbling with excitement and curiosity. It’s so clear that the school brings her refuge and joy. A safe place that opens the door to discovery, to friendship, to stability, to a future where she can reach higher and go further than anyone in her family ever has.

Rolda Laroque, 5th grade student

But Rolda’s childhood is marked by one of the most challenging moments in Haiti’s recent history. Since the protests last summer, there has been increasing political and economic turmoil.  Inflation has skyrocketed and the cost of food and transportation has risen beyond what most families can afford. When I spoke to our Haitian partner last week, he shared how the increasing hunger, unrest, and violence in Port-au-Prince have created an ominous sense of uncertainty.

These are complicated and especially challenging times. Access to food, water and fuel is becoming more difficult and there is a level of insecurity in the city we haven’t felt in a long time. Our programs are so critical now. Not only are we providing food and education, but we are also giving the community the hope and support they need.”  
Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive’s Program Director

Na Rive is working tirelessly to put your generosity into action. When the situation on the streets forced schools to close, the Fr. Jeri School offered extra support to help students catch up and prepare for their exams. Beyond academic life, the school represents a safe place and a source of pride for the community. The education and support the Fr. Jeri School provides is the best thing we can do for the children, and for their country. As Lavarice explains:

“We do everything possible to offer a high-quality education. We look for teachers with a great track record who are also committed and passionate about our cause and we foster the same motivation in our students. We challenge them every day, because we want them to dream bigger, work harder, and rise above history.” 

Join us in helping Rolda and all the children at the Fr. Jeri School create a brighter future, for themselves and for their country. Make a donation today.

You can have a lasting impact on the lives of these beautiful children and support future generations to come. Together we can keep the halls of the Fr. Jeri School filled with hope and possibility.

With appreciation and gratitude,

SignatureCL

Catherine Lelong,
Interim Executive Director

 



Apr 11th, 2019

New Leadership at the What If? Foundation

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

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After six wonderful years as Executive Director of the What If? Foundation, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step down. It was a difficult decision as the work we’ve done here has brought me so much joy and a deep appreciation for how small acts of kindness in one part of the world can really transform the lives of people in another.

Over the last few years, I have worked with so many dedicated, inspiring members of the Na Rive team and the Ti Plas Kazo community. I’ve watched their determination in the face of unimaginable challenges and the compassion they show for each and every child they encounter. There is so much love and respect in this community, and I will deeply miss my friends in Haiti.

I am also immensely grateful for the generosity and trust of our donors. Many of you have never been to Haiti or even met a Haitian before, yet you open your hearts and give what you can to help these children and families. You fill their bellies and give them hope for a brighter future. It’s the purest form of kindness, and I thank you for entrusting me to steward your money and getting it directly to those most in need.

Over the last several months, I have been working with our committed board of directors and devoted founder to ensure a smooth transition, so we can continue supporting the important work of Na Rive. And I am thrilled to say that our Board Chair, Catherine Lelong, will be acting Executive Director while the Board searches for the next permanent Executive Director. Catherine and I have been working closely for the last few years, and I couldn’t imagine a better person to manage the transition.

Thanks again for your support and commitment to the children of Ti Plas Kazo. Please read on below for a message from our Board Chair and Interim Executive Director, Catherine Lelong.

With gratitude,

Suzanne

 

 

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A message from the Board Chair:

CLProfileWe are sad to see Suzanne stepping down as our Executive Director but deeply grateful for her leadership, warmth and dedication to the What If? Foundation, Na Rive and the Ti Plas Kazo community.

Over the last six years, Suzanne has helped the What If? Foundation grow in many ways. She oversaw the construction of the Father Jeri School — a dream of many years, love and effort in the making. She strengthened and expanded our relationships with donors and deepened our partnership with Na Rive. She managed our Founder’s transition effectively and gracefully. She upgraded our data management systems, built a nurturing, warm and inclusive culture, and has been a wonderful ambassador for the What If? Foundation and our cause. Suzanne is a big part of the foundation’s success and will be greatly missed.

While our board searches for Suzanne’s successor, I will be serving as Interim Executive Director, laying the groundwork for new leadership and ensuring that the transition runs smoothly. I feel privileged to be able to work more closely with Na Rive in this role and look forward to connecting with many of you more often.

A little bit about me. I met our Founder Margaret Trost four years ago, and as I learned about the What If? Foundation’s mission, I felt compelled to contribute. I joined the Board of Directors soon after and became Board Chair last year, which allowed me to work closely with Suzanne, Na Rive and Margaret, and grow ever more committed to the programs and community we serve.

My background is in strategy, marketing and communications. I serve on several nonprofit boards, and I am half-Haitian – all of which motivates me to support our mission, our grassroots partnership model, and most importantly, the children and families of Ti Plas Kazo. I believe in the importance of supporting community-led initiatives as a way to create sustainable change in Haiti, and I’ve witnessed first-hand how the power of small steps can transform people’s lives.

In my time on the board, I’ve focused on leading our strategic planning and communications committees, and updating our marketing assets and channels — including our new website, which I’m excited to announce will launch later this spring.

I am honored to lead the organization through this transition, and I am so grateful for your generous and ongoing support, without which our work would not be possible.

If you have any questions or concerns during this transition or would just like to connect, please feel free to reach out to me directly at catherine@whatiffoundation.org.

With appreciation and hope,

SignatureCL

 

Catherine Lelong
Board Chair and Interim Executive Director
What If? Foundation


Mar 29th, 2019

Celebrating Lamanjay

Dear Friend of What If? Foundation,

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Every March we celebrate the anniversary of the food program in Ti Plas Kazo, Lamanjay. We celebrate the impact it has made, feeding thousands of children and their parents and giving them hope for another day. We celebrate its origins: how a few meals on Sundays became a daily program and the wellspring for everything we have achieved with Na Rive since. And we celebrate you, for keeping this vital program alive.

 

Help us keep hot, nutritious meals available for some of the worlds’ most vulnerable children.

Make a Donation

Food Program March2019 2This is the 19th year of operation for Lamanjay, making it one of the longest running food programs in the area. While we continue to hope for a day when the program is no longer needed, we celebrate the dedication and resilience of Na Rive as they have nurtured, sustained and grown this program for the good of their community.

The program has been especially critical this year, as prices for food have increased 10x due to rising inflation caused by the fuel crisis. The prices of basic goods were already out of reach for so many, which means that those who were just hanging on, no longer can.

“One of the mothers who is new to Lamanjay told me she was so grateful because she doesn’t have to spend her days worrying about her empty cupboards at home. Her children get a hot, nutritious meal in the afternoon and won’t go to be hungry that day.”

– Na Rive Program Director Lavarice Gaudin

The new location of the community cafeteria next to the school grounds has made more seats available to those in need. And with your support Na Rive can ensure that every plate is full.

Help us keep these children nourished and with energy to play and learn.

Make a Donation

Thank you, as always, for keeping Haiti in your hearts, and for keeping Lamanjay as a pillar of support for the community of Ti Plas Kazo and beyond.

With hope and gratitude,

Suzanne

 



Feb 14th, 2019

Emergency in Haiti: Help Na Rive feed the children

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

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As you may have read in the news, the political and economic instability in Haiti has escalated. Corruption claims and a new fuel shortage have led to nationwide protests and demonstrations demanding the resignation of president Jovenel Moïse. Some protests have turned violent and many people are afraid to leave their homes. Schools and businesses have been closed since last Thursday, and there has been no electricity supply for days now. Markets are closed, and some food suppliers have even shuttered their warehouses.So far, Na Rive has been able to draw from their emergency food sources. But with fuel so scarce and so many businesses closed due to the protests, inflation is skyrocketing. Which means many more people are not able to feed their families and are in need of help.Please help us keep the children and families of Ti Plas Kazo from going hungry during this time of emergency. Make a donation today.

Make a Donation
“It’s harder and harder to get food. Regular people who were ‘just’ making it before are now crying with hunger. And the poor have nothing. Nothing. Once people feel safe to leave their houses again, they will come to the food program for a meal. And we are concerned because we won’t have enough to offer them if the prices keep increasing as quickly as the need does.”   Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

The cost of food and school supplies are up at least 40% from just last week, which is magnifying the suffering throughout Ti Plas Kazo and all of Haiti. The need for donations is urgent. Let’s show the children and families in Ti Plas Kazo we care and will continue to stand with them in these difficult times.

Indeed, it is during times like these that we see the strength and impact of our partnership with Na Rive and we’re grateful to have such a direct way to respond. Thank you for your support and for holding Haiti in your heart.

With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director


Jan 28th, 2019

What you made happen in 2018

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

How did 2018 go by so quickly?! While it was a year filled with serious challenges for our friends in Ti Plas Kazo (steep price hikes, street protests and political turmoil), it was also marked by the success, determination and hope of Na Rive. Here are some of the highlights that have filled me with optimism for the new year:

The Father Jeri School had a phenomenal pass rate on their government exams.

IMG_0636The Father Jeri School set an incredible record for itself in its first year of government exams, with a 98% pass rate. This result is all the more impressive when you consider that the national average pass rate is 66%. We can credit this accomplishment to the Father Jeri School’s strong emphasis on curriculum, teacher training, experiential learning, and our longstanding After School Program, where children receive additional tutoring and teacher time. And of course, let’s not forget the students, whose hard work paid off!

Father Jeri School students expanded their horizons.
fruit day elbast_jan19Experiences like traveling to historical sites like Marchand-DessalinesCarnival week in Cap Haitien and Fruit Day took students beyond the confines of the classroom, piquing lifelong curiosity and leaving a lasting impression. Play time and real-world practical experience are guiding principles of the school’s philosophy, and we saw it in action in 2018.

The Food Program expanded into a new space.
As with all Na Rive programs, the Food Program is dynamic, evolving to respond to the needs of the community. Last year, Na Rive created a new community cafeteria next door to the school to provide neighborhood children an easily accessible space to receive these critical meals. Students and staff also continue to be served nutritious meals in the school cafeteria.

You made it all possible.

Every day, every week, every year, it is the compassion and support of our donors that allows Na Rive’s programs to thrive. Your donations in 2018 created meaningful change for hundreds of children, students, teachers and families in Ti Plas Kazo and are helping Na Rive lift their community up. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

Here’s to a 2019 that brings better times for Haiti, and continued learning, growth and resilience for us all.