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What If? Blog

Jun 6th, 2018

Joy at the Father Jeri School

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

MT with 3 students outside

A few weeks ago, I walked through the doors of the Father Jeri School for the first time since it opened. To say I felt overwhelmed with joy would be an understatement.  It was everything I imagined and so much more.

I arrived during lunchtime and the sounds of children playing outside and eating in the cafeteria filled the air.  As I stood in the courtyard taking it all in, I remembered back to when the school was just an idea that seemed almost impossible to bring into form.

But here it was in front of me.  Alive and vibrant.  Three stories full of eager students. 351 of them!  Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  8 full-time teachers, 39 subject specific part-time teachers, and 23 staff members.  Everyone engaged in their work.  And food program meals streaming into the cafeteria with hundreds more plates prepared for other hungry children in the neighborhood.  So much going on.  So much energy.  So much school spirit.

Great pic of student at blackboard (1)
I visited chemistry, math, and history classes, enjoyed the enthusiastic singing of the kindergarteners, and watched students practice their dance routine for Haiti’s Flag Day.  Every inch of the school was being used and enjoyed.  Even on the weekends, classrooms are filled with students participating in Na Rive’s after-school program.

Your donations pay for scholarships, teachers, books, and uniforms.  They pay for fuel to keep the generator running and food program stoves burning.  And meals – you pay for hundreds and hundreds of nutritious meals every day that mean everything to a hungry child.  Every donation of every size matters in this work.It was palpable how cherished the Father Jeri School is, how proud the students are to be a part of it, and what an invaluable resource it is for the community.  The school is changing lives, providing hope, making a difference every day.

Throughout my trip, I kept thinking of you and how you’ve helped make all of this possible.  Without your support, this school would have remained just a good idea.

MT and Lava group shotI’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to move an idea into reality.  It takes all of us:  Our extraordinary partner Na Rive, our devoted staff and board at What If, and every one of you.  It’s all of us sharing our hearts and resources, being vehicles of love, united in our desire to make a difference for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

I feel so grateful to be part of this tangible and transformative work.  Thank you for being a part of it too and for your ongoing support of the What If? Foundation.

With love and joy,


Founder, What If? Foundation

Apr 26th, 2018

Thursdays at the Father Jeri School


In Madame Jean Nadège’s first grade class at the Father Jeri School, Thursdays start with plenty of joy and energy – and always on schedule. The students stand and salute the flag, just as many of us used to do when we were young. Then they dive right into mathematics – which 6-year old student Roodjy Cherubin loves. “Math is my favorite subject. I want to be an engineer when I grow up!”

Roodjy may be a little young to predict his future profession, but his love of learning is no accident. Madame Nadège credits the curriculum.  “This is my first year working at the Father Jeri School, she says. “It is a real pleasure for me to be here, because the administration really cares about teaching, and the students’ futures. We focus on learning, not just testing. This way the children will grow up inquisitive and with a love for discovering the world around them.”

Madame Nadedge4After Math, students spend time improving their literacy in Creole. While they also learn French, studying Creole is important for making sure they are articulate in their native language, and for instilling a sense of pride in their country.

The rest of the day covers civics, reading, oral communication, art, and of course, recess. First graders finish their school day by eating a nutritious meal together, along with their teachers. It’s a lively schedule filled with as much rigor as imagination.

Here’s what some of the other students have to say:

2018_jan_themissa_2 2 Jean Edwin Charles_2 Casly Francois_2 2
Themissa Florence Joseph loves all the subjects, and is proud that she always gets good grades after her exams. ​ Jean-Edwin Charles’ favorite subjects are mathematics, Creole and reading. He thinks he might like to be a lawyer when he grows up. Casly Francois would like to become a teacher so she can be like Madame Nadège (and because she really enjoys the tasty food at the canteen!).

And in addition to math, Roodjy Cherubin loves his school – especially the yard because it is so big. He can run and play with his friends at recess.

Your donations make this love of learning possible. Thank you for all that you do to support these first graders – and all the students at the Father Jeri School. Please consider making a donation today. With every dollar, we create hope and opportunity for the year ahead.

Mar 30th, 2018

A New Home for the Food Program

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

mother holding babyThis month marks 18 years of the food program in the Ti Plas Kazo community of Port-au-Prince. 18 years of children and families knowing their hunger can be relieved. 18 years of hope, determination, and love by Na Rive’s leaders and staff. 18 years of your compassion and support. We are so grateful for the role you’ve played in maintaining this vital program.


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

Children like Lydia, who has been coming to the food LYDIA_MAR2018program since she was an infant. Lydia’s parents, a beautician and a mechanic, struggle to make ends meet. They are incredibly grateful knowing that she and her brother can count on the meals the food program provides.

But they haven’t always known where to get them. Since Lydia started coming to the food program six years ago, it has been forced to relocate three times.

Like the rest of Haiti, Ti Plas Kazo remains in a constant state of change, mainly due to the effects of natural disasters and political instability. As the neighborhood changes, the food program has shifted from one location to the next, never able to establish solid ground. But through it all, our partner Na Rive has never wavered in its commitment to the children of Ti Plas Kazo and has successfully served hot meals for 18 years.

Now it’s time to build a home for the food program, so children like Lydia always know where to go for a meal.

Lava new food construction Mar2018

Program Director Lavarice Gaudin and his staff have recently taken steps to develop the lot right behind the Father Jeri School, and have begun construction on a new and permanent home for the food program. The building plans are designed specifically to serve the program – a kitchen large enough for cooking at volume and securely storing supplies; a large dining space with tables, benches, and a designated counter for serving and restrooms for the cooking staff.

Join us in securing the future of the food program. With a donation of $50 from each of our donors we can fund the completion of its new home.

What’s more, having a purpose-built home for the food program creates the opportunity for the Father Jeri School to expand its reach and possibilities. For instance, the new space could be used to hold events and dinners for students’ families, and the lot is large enough to add classrooms in the future.

Thank you, as always, for allowing your compassion to cross borders. We look forward to sharing the progress of this incredible project with you soon.

Piti piti….

Suzanne signature
Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director


Feb 28th, 2018

A Lesson in Pride and Hope

big group citadel_2People all over Haiti celebrated Carnival in February –but few had the chance to use the holiday as a learning opportunity. While most schools closed their doors to steer clear of the revelry, 148 students and 12 teachers from the Father Jeri School took a trip to Cap Haitien to experience their nation’s history.

A port city on the north coast filled with beautiful colonial architecture, Cap Haitien was the original capital of Haiti, and later, a key location in the Haitian Revolution. Wearing matching t-shirts, the students toured moments in history Citadellethey’d only read about. They visited the Citadelle, a fortress built in 1805 by Henri Christophe, one of the country’s most prominent leaders. They stepped into Bois Caiman, site of the first major slave insurrection of the Haitian Revolution. And they stood on the ground of The Battle of Vertieres, which led to the independence of Haiti in 1803 — the first successful slave revolution in history. At the end of each day, the group got together to ask questions, share their thoughts, and reflect on their heritage.

School trip t shirtsFew American students get the opportunity to tour their nation’s capital, and in Haiti it’s even less common. It was the first trip to Cap Haitien for almost everyone – including the teachers. Even Madame Phillipe, who taught history at a very prestigious school in Port-au-Prince for eight years, was never given the opportunity to experience history like this. Now both teachers and students have a personal connection to these places, making the teaching more engaging and the lessons more meaningful.

With their amazing resourcefulness, our Haitian partner, Na Rive, was able to secure transport as well as free lodging at a local school. To cover the cost of meals, each family was asked to contribute 183 Haitian Dollars, or $2.65 US, but no one was turned away for lack of funds. Na Rive believes strongly in the role nutrition plays in education, whether the kids are in school or away from it.

Trips like this illustrate how the Father Jeri School is pursuing its mission to foster and inspire the next generation of Haiti’s leaders. At a time when others question the value of this country, your contributions are creating education, pride, and hope for the future.

Jan 29th, 2018

Haiti: A Country of HOPE

Jan_2018_eblast waterfall2If you’ve been listening to the news lately, or watching our social media feeds, you know that Haiti has been in the headlines.  It seems some people have a very different view on the country we know and love. Perhaps they haven’t seen the same Haiti we have.

A country with a proud history of freedom and independence – a history inextricably linked to our own.

A place of incredible beauty and creativity.

A people with a bright, bold, indomitable spirit.

A future filled with youth, energy, and hope.  This is the Haiti we know and cherish. This is the Haiti we celebrate and support.
jacmel carnival photo web

We’ve shared many stories with you of the children and families your donations support – as well as the leaders, teachers and volunteers who are making change happen in Ti Plas Kazo. We’ll keep sharing these stories for as long as there is a What If? Foundation.And today, we ask that you do the same.

Forward the emails, share our website filled with dreams aspired to and dreams fulfilled. Share these stories of children learning to become leaders in their school, community, and country. Tell everyone you know that Haiti is a place of incredible resilience, community, and beauty.
Berto and children IFO school

Together, we can do our part to change the narrative about Haiti. Because the best answer to ignorance is knowledge. The best counter to pessimism: HOPE.

Hopefully your friends, family and colleagues will be inspired to get involved, as you have. If nothing else, they’ll have an accurate glimpse of a country and a people that have continuously inspired us since our first visit 18 years ago. Hope defines Haiti like no other place we’ve seen. We share that hope, and together we can help it grow.  Together we can build on that hope and support Haiti’s efforts towards a better future.