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What If? Blog

Nov 8th, 2018

Stop to smell the mangoes

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,
fruit day pre k elbast

While the Father Jeri School is very proud of its academic success, students don’t spend all day, every day behind books. Play time, as well as real-world practical experience, are guiding principles of the school’s philosophy. And last week that philosophy came to life in wonderful ways.

Like Fruit Day, where kindergarten students had a chance to see, touch, smell and taste part of the core curriculum. As Program Director Lavarice Gaudin says, “Drawings of fruit are in the textbook. But many of these children don’t have fresh fruit at home, or understand where juice comes from. So we invite the papayas, coconuts and bananas to class with us. Imagine touching and tasting a mango for the first time … their faces lit up!”

students planting Oct 2018_4Meanwhile, students of every age joined hands to plant trees along the newly paved driveway, and got a lesson about nature in the process. Instilling the students with a sense of ownership and responsibility for the school grounds has always been essential in the eyes of Na Rivé, because it translates to civic responsibility and participation later on in their lives. Says Lavarice, “When dust becomes a garden, there’s a change in the students too. They show you how proud they are. The Philo students are actually angry with me because this is their last year and the school just keeps getting more beautiful!” Imagine how proud they’ll be when their new garden is in bloom next summer, right around graduation time. We can’t wait to see it!

With love, gratitude and a sudden craving for fruit salad,

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director

Oct 25th, 2018

Back to school at the Father Jeri School

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

WS Students walking into school (2)As you’ve noticed by now, to live in Haiti is to live with uncertainty. In weather. In politics. In economics. In safety. But as you’ve also seen, the Haitian spirit is resilient and irrepressible. And that spirit is most clearly expressed in the children whose lives you touch.

Though their parents continue to weather price hikes, lost jobs and the effects of the earthquake that struck a couple of weeks ago, these kids spent the summer enjoying themselves and dreaming of a brighter future. Because they are students at the Father Jeri School, they have a safe environment to learn, play, eat and imagine what they can accomplish.

Here’s what some of the other students have to say:
Miserguerland_Oct18 2 Gabriel_Oct18 2 Emmanuel Anelus_Oct18 2

Miseguerlande, aged 11, whiled away the days the same way kids everywhere do: she played, ate, went to the river, played soccer and spent time with her family. Now she’s happy to go back to school, and eager to succeed again this year.

When he wasn’t at the soccer field with playing with friends, Gabriel was happy to be at the Na Rive summer camp, eating a nutritious meal every day and learning how to make Macrame bracelets and a pair of sandals for his mother and sister. They loved them! And he’s looking forward to learning a different skill next summer.

Emmanuel lives with his father, and feels lucky to be going back to school. His father is working very hard to ensure that he gets an education and wants to do well to make his dad proud.

Thanks to your generosity and the hard work and determination of the teachers, students and staff, these children have something that so many children in Haiti do not: they have hope.

Help us support their dreams and continue to build their future. Make a donation today.

Sep 18th, 2018

Transforming lives at the Father Jeri School

kids showing artIt’s an exciting time for everyone at the Father Jeri School. Students and teachers have headed back to the classroom. And everyone is thrilled by the recent news: Father Jeri students had a 100% pass rate on their government exams last year! It’s an almost unheard-of score (the national average is 66%), which has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Education and the entire community.

Na Rive is building on this success by adding the final year of school, Philo, to the curriculum. So starting this year, students will now officially be able to graduate from the Father Jeri School.

While the gas price hike was suspended back in July, the cost of everyday goods continues to skyrocket – as much as 40% in a very short time. Every family is feeling the effects, and so is the Father Jeri School.

We can make a difference. Let’s help the Father Jeri School have access to the resources they need.

As always, Program Director Lavarice Gaudin is doing everything he can to stretch resources as far as possible.

CU Lava at desk

“All kinds of businesses were destroyed during the July riots – and many jobs were lost with them. Families are struggling even more to find money for school tuition, while the overall costs at the school have also risen. This, together with a record number of student registrations, and the new Philo year, makes the need for more funds to buy furniture, as well as teaching, classroom and cleaning supplies, critical. Every dollar makes a difference.”

The great news is that the Father Jeri School is transforming lives. The students are realizing their potential. The journey from kindergarten to graduation day is now complete. Our partners, Na Rive, continue to make it all happen – no matter what comes their way.

And we can help.

If you can donate $20 or $30 – for food, for supplies, for the future – know that every single penny will be put to its best use. And know that we are grateful, as ever, for your compassion and continued support.

Aug 2nd, 2018

The summer camp tradition continues

camp bannerThe tradition of summer camp continues this year at the Father Jeri School. Last week, 200 campers and teachers made a day trip to Marchand-Dessalines, the “First Black Capital of the World.”

This little-known historical town, named after former slave and Haitian Revolution leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines, served as the original capital of Haiti when the country was founded in 1804. The students toured Dessaline’s former estate, the Palace of 365 Doors, its forts and the surrounding area with a guide who pointed out the historical significance of what they were seeing.kids in front of palace

Madame Marie, who had been raised in the area, had never been to the historical sites. “I feel so lucky that we were able to bring these children to see, touch and live their country’s history. I read about it in books, but no one ever thought to take me there. It makes such a difference.”

When they returned from the trip, the kids got together to share what struck them – the strategic thinking that went into the building of the site, the ingenuity of the building materials and weapons, and the bravery of their country’s first leaders. It provided a stark contrast to their country’s current state, and prompted a discussion about the forces that have driven Haiti in the past – and how the spirit of their founders could guide their future.

As you know, Haiti’s current state includes political uncertainty, civil unrest, and skyrocketing food prices. But that’s no reason to cancel summer camp. As Program Director Lavarice Gaudin says “No matter what Haiti faces, the education of its children cannot – must not – be neglected. Experiencing their history is how they will transform their future.”guide with tshirt

Every day, the children need a hot meal. They need a quality education. They need joy. They need hope that something better is possible. And they need you. The cost of food and gas in Haiti has nearly doubled in the last few weeks alone. Help us continue to give these children the tools to transform their lives, no matter what tomorrow holds.

As always, we are deeply grateful for your compassion, your kindness, and your support.

With love and gratitude,

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Directo

Jul 11th, 2018

Update on protests in Haiti

Dear Friends of What If,

I spoke to Lavarice this morning. So far, the relative quiet from Monday continues.

2017 first day of summer camp“There have been some protests, but they have been more localized. In fact, camp was open today. I just finished having a welcome meeting with new campers where they learned about the program and expectations and also about the Father Jeri School. They are all so excited to be here. They will have fun, learn new skills and have a hot meal every day. This program is especially important during these difficult times in our country. Children should have a safe place where they can just be kids – where they can laugh and play and learn.

We don’t know what will happen later in the week, but we are being very careful to monitor where the protests are and we will do everything possible to keep our kids and our community safe in these very challenging times.

We want to thank you for all your messages and prayers. We are so grateful to know that we are not alone.”

It’s heartbreaking to witness Ti Plas Kazo and all of Haiti pulled into turmoil once again. As always, we stand in solidarity with our Haitian friends, no matter what challenges they face.
Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and support, Na Rive, the children and the community can feel it.
With gratitude and hope,
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director