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What If? Blog

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

 



Apr 19th, 2017

Life and learning beyond the classroom

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

jacmel carnival photo webThe end of February marks the start of Carnival in Haiti, a celebration held over several weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. During this time the streets of Port-au-Prince are filled with music, dancing and parades of costumed revelers. Celebrations last through the night and fill the neighborhoods with festivities, making it difficult for children to attend school. Many institutions close their doors for the week.

getting bus to PS Teachers of the Father Jeri School decided instead to expand learning beyond the classroom, taking 176 students to see another part of the country, and learn new skills for the future. These intrepid travelers and their teachers went to Port Salut, a beach town in the southeast. For most students, it was their first time touching sand or swimming in the ocean. For others, it was the first time they had ever left Port-au-Prince, to take pride in the beautiful rolling green hills, white sand beaches, and raging waterfalls and rivers of their homeland.

During the trip, students had the chance to attend different workshops like “Population and Our Planet” which gave children the chance to consider the world beyond their neighborhood, and how a growing population increases the demand for food and resources not only in Haiti, but in the wider world.

“This discussion was so exciting, with both students and teachers really engaged. I picked this topic because I liked the intellectual challenge and that all ages could participate in the discussion”
Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

Carnival retreat classroom

Students also got a chance to think about the future on a personal level. The “Life is Management” program offered a primer on managing academics and finances – the practical life skills so essential to success. And a visit from a public health nurse gave students a chance to meet and interact with a working professional. They heard about the field of nursing while also receiving vital hygiene, nutrition, and physical fitness advice.

And of course, we can’t forget their time at the beach. Play, exploration, friendship, and fun are all vital to learning – and to life. The children had a blast!
Port salut pink bikini
Thanks to Na Rive’s connections and resourcefulness, transport was donated and lodging was offered by a local college with spare dorm rooms. To cover the cost of meals, each family was asked to contribute 183 Haitian Dollars, or $2.65 US, yet no one was turned away for a lack of funds. Na Rive believes strongly in the role nutrition plays in education, whether the kids are in school or away from it.

It was an incredible week, as the photos show. And you made it all possible. While you couldn’t touch your toes to the sand, we hope you’ve seen how much joy and possibility you’ve created.

With love and gratitude,

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director



Mar 23rd, 2017

Feed the Next Generation

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

two girls bows and hair clipsI’d like to introduce you to Analisa and Chery. These beautiful sisters are a testament to the power of resilience, hope and your compassion.

Analisa and Chery have been coming to the food program since before they were born.  When their mother found out she was pregnant with Analisa, she knew she needed consistent nutrition to support her growing baby. This was not long after the earthquake in 2010 when she lost everything. She was forced to relocate to a tent community in Ti Plas Kazo, where the meals you provided not only saved this mother’s life, but nourished the future of her family.

The situation was much the same when Chery was born two years later. Economic conditions have not improved in Haiti in the years since the earthquake. The country has endured drought, disease, government instability and most recently, Hurricane Mathew. Thankfully, your generosity continues to provide for these girls – as it has done for so many others.

Help us continue to support this vital food program. 

Each meal costs $0.65. 

       Make a Donation button 

This week marks the 17th anniversary of Lamanjay, the Creole name for the food program. Thanks to your belief in our mission and your continued generosity, we have been able to provide a generation of Haitian children the fuel to survive, learn and thrive.

food pantry holiday bags 3Life changes quickly in Haiti, and because of our partnership with Na Rive, we are able to respond effectively.  When the tent community was dismantled last October, Analisa and Chery were among the hundreds of children and families forced to leave.  Now the girls and their mother are miles from “home,” without a permanent place to live, and still without enough income to purchase food regularly.

So the food program has adapted, creating a food pantry where these displaced members of the community can pick up rice and beans to cook at home. This keeps nutrition on the table for Analisa and Chery, while saving their family from struggling to find their way to Ti Plas Kazo every day.

As many as 20 mothers come each week to collect meals from our food pantry.  It is an important part of our mission — with the raw rice and beans we provide, families can come to their own tables to get nourishment and a sense of hope.”            

–Lavarice Gaudin, Director of Na Rive

On this 17th anniversary, we ask for your support to help us ensure that the food pantry is stocked and that meals served each weekday to hundreds of children can continue.

                                                               Make a Donation button

two girls passing plates

Your support over the years has allowed the food program to grow into something more powerful than we ever imagined. Na Rive tells us that the desperation that can come from hunger has been replaced with a sense of community and shared purpose in Ti Plas Kazo. Children who were part of the first generation served, now volunteer to serve others. The meals provided each week day through Lamanjay are referred to as “meals of love” by the cooking team, and that’s how we see them too.

Thank you for making these “meals of love” possible for Analisa, Chery and countless other Haitian children.

Piti, piti

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director



Jan 26th, 2017

Looking Back — And Forging Ahead

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

January is always a time of reflection and purpose. New Year’s resolutions feel particularly poignant to us this year as we remember the 7th anniversary of the earthquake, and the actions it set in motion.

motherfeedingherchild

The days, weeks, and months after the earthquake were unspeakably dire. Thanks to the courage and devotion of Na Rive and the generosity of our donors, we were able to serve tens of thousands of people in need. But in the midst of such essential work, the food program faced closing its doors, as it lost its home at St. Claire’s rectory.

 

East view schoolThanks to your support, we were able to fund Na Rive’s purchase of their own land in Ti Plas Kazo. Seven years later, we can look back and see this moment as a turning point. Because that property is now the home of an extraordinary dream we have realized together: the Father Jeri School.

 

At a time when the path forward was unclear, you made it possible to believe and invest in the future of Haiti. We are so grateful for your love and trust, which is bringing hope and opportunity to hundreds of children every day.
Lava in Red 2 2

Some missions have no end. There are big challenges ahead, but we keep doing the work: providing nutrition and education, and helping people around us however we can. We will see what 2017 will bring. No matter what, we continue to move forward!

–Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rive Program Director

 

In addition to sustaining the food program, which continues to play a vital role in the community, Na Rive and the Father Jeri School have important plans for the year ahead. One major ambition is to expand the student body to include 9th grade by next fall. Another is to establish a dedicated source of electricity for the school. Public electricity in Haiti is intermittent at best so having a generator would create a more reliable learning environment for students and teachers to flourish.

As always, there is much to do, much to be thankful for, and much to look forward to. Thank you for investing in hope and for continuing to support the Father Jeri School, the food program and the children of Ti Plas Kazo.

Lespwa fè viv — Hope makes life!

With gratitude,

Suzanne signature

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director