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What If? Blog

Dec 20th, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

food prep may day 2017

As we sit down to plan our holiday menus, the Na Rive kitchen staff is doing the same. Every year, with your support, they cook and serve a heartfelt and nutritious Christmas meal to over 1,000 children.

The community food program takes on special significance this holiday, as rising food prices put a daily meal out of reach for so many in Ti Plas Kazo. For children who will receive little else, the gift of Christmas dinner means so much.

children eating 2

If you haven’t donated yet this year, we hope you’ll consider it now. Your support means a holiday filled with hope for many of these children. You can show them that they are loved, that they matter, and that they have not been forgotten.

Make a Donation

We send our deepest thanks to you for keeping these children in your hearts over the holidays and every day.

a few girls eating

On behalf of everyone in Ti Plas Kazo, we wish you much health and happiness in 2019.

With gratitude,

The What If? Foundation board of directors, staff, and our Haitian partners, Na Rive

Dec 17th, 2018

Show Them They’re Not Alone

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,
protest photo nov 2018_2 5

I’m afraid this holiday season is proving to be a particularly difficult one for our friends in Haiti. The protests that plagued the country after the July price hike have continued and the food crisis has deepened, making life even harder for many of the children and families we serve. Here’s how Na Rive Program Director Lavarice Gaudin describes the situation:

“The divisive politics are disrupting the country. Some areas of Port-au-Prince have become dangerous due to the protests, making people afraid to be on the streets. A couple of our teachers had to leave their homes and many of the parents are afraid to let their children out the door. We are doing everything we can to offer the Father Jeri School as a refuge for our community.”

Through it all, the Na Rive team is working tirelessly. Help us support them as they provide sanctuary, sustenance and hope for students, teachers and hungry families.

Make a Donation
group students studying_dec18

Since schools were closed for more than a week, the Father Jeri School has been providing extra help in the afternoons and over weekends to make sure students are prepared for their final exams. Despite the challenging circumstances, the children are eager to show all the hard work they’ve put into their courses. They want to pass their exams and make their families proud!

It is at times like these that your support is most deeply felt. Let’s show the children and families of Ti Plas Kazo they’re not alone. With your help, Na Rive can give them a safe place and a reason to celebrate the holidays. Please consider making a donation today.

We’ll continue to update you on the situation in Haiti as it develops. Thank you for keeping the children of Ti Plas Kazo in your thoughts and hearts. Your support is what gets them through.

With gratitude and hope,

Suzanne Alberga
Executive Director

Nov 28th, 2018

Keep Ti Plas Kazo in your heart

Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,

girl plate of food blackboard

As I sat down for Thanksgiving dinner last week, I felt so much gratitude – for good health, for family, and for you. For all that you contribute to make sure the children of Ti Plas Kazo have the opportunities every child deserves

While you’re considering the many worthy causes this Giving Tuesday, I hope you’ll keep Ti Plas Kazo, and all the Haitian children faced with food insecurity, in your heart and budget this holiday season. Food is more than sustenance: it helps us connect with family, is the foundation for learning and a key to hope.

If you’ve recently made a donation, thank you for your generosity. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please donate today.

  • $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 otherwise.

On behalf of the What If? Foundation, Na Rive, and all the children we support in Port-au-Prince: thank you. Thank you for giving these children a hot, nutritious meal, and a chance for a brighter future.

With gratitude and hope,

Nov 15th, 2018

First we feed the children

Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,

Lava smiling with student (1)

As we prepare to gather with family and friends around a Thanksgiving meal, I find myself reflecting on a moment that passed in the Father Jeri School cafeteria last week.

Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rivé’s Program Director, shared a conversation he heard as high school students were eating the nutritious daily lunch you make possible. It’s rare for Haitians to talk about hunger, even though it is a daily reality for millions. But on that day, 15-year-old Carmelle expressed what so many feel:

“This food is so important. Without it, how would we make it? What would we do? I’m thankful for the people who provide these meals.”

Carmelle is like so many other Haitian children: her parents both work hard but struggle to survive. They despair every day that their child will go hungry.

What sets Carmelle apart is your continued support.

It was nearly 19 years ago when our food program began serving a single meal a week to 500 of the world’s most impoverished children. With love, perseverance and commitment, the program now serves over 5,000 meals a week: to the students and staff at the Father Jeri School, the hundreds of children who eat every weekday afternoon at the recently built community cafeteria next door, and the dozens of displaced families who visit our food pantry. All these meals, served over all these years, have brought nourishment, hope, and stability to families in Ti Plas Kazo. And none of it would have been possible without you.

For Carmelle, you make all the difference. Help us keep food on the table for her and for the children of Ti Plas Kazo. Just 75 cents of a dollar keep a child from going hungry tomorrow.

boys meals cafe 2

As has been the case from the beginning, food program meals are prepared with great care by Na Rivé’s devoted cooking team. Rice, beans, fresh vegetables and herbs, spices, and the occasional meat or fish are purchased locally, helping Haitian farmers and their families.

Father Jeri School teachers witness the nourishing effects of the food program every day in the classroom. It’s a testament to Father Jeri’s wisdom all those years ago, when he said to What If founder Margaret Trost: “First we feed the children, we keep them alive. Then, we build the school.” The combination of reliable nutrition and excellent education is so essential, and yet rare in Haiti. But we know it works: Father Jeri students achieved an extraordinary 99% pass rate on their government exams last year. A remarkable feat (given the national average is 66%) which has created excitement and pride among the students and the entire community.

“Most schools in Haiti don’t have a lunch program or such high-quality education. This is hurting a whole generation of children. The reality is that having enough food is our most desperate ongoing need in Haiti. Food costs have increased as much as 40% in recent months, and this makes it even more difficult for the poor. People come together to share what they have, but it is never enough. We pray to keep this food program alive, because there is never a single day that it’s not critically important for each and every child.” — Lavarice Gaudin, Na Rivé Program Director

It’s an ambitious goal to fund both the food program and a school that serves children from Pre-Kindergarten through high school graduation. But it’s this unique combination of nutrition and education that makes transformation possible. We are determined and inspired to continue making such a direct difference in so many lives.

Thank you for supporting this fundamental work. Your donation this holiday season will nourish Carmelle’s future, and that of the children and families in her community.

With season’s greetings and gratitude,

Suzanne Alberga

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