What If? Blog
Dec 18th, 2016
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
I can’t wait to share this letter from one of our most dedicated donors. She’s also one of our youngest! Erin Manuel is 14, and has been raising money for the What If? Foundation and Haitian children for seven years. (You read that correctly: since she was seven.) She is an inspiration to her peers, and to all of us.
Erin accompanied us to Haiti to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Father Jeri School this last April. I’ve asked her to share her experience there, and what motivates her to keep supporting the What If? Foundation.
Thank you for your continued support this holiday season.
“Mwen rele Erin” (My name is Erin). “Kijan ou rele?” (What is your name?). I practiced these Creole phrases over and over on the plane this past April, exhilarated to be on the way to Haiti for the very first time.
I am 14 years old and have been raising money for Haiti since the massive earthquake in 2010, when I was seven. It really moved me. I just ran to my room, dumped out my piggy bank, gave it to my mom and said “here’s $3.08 cents, can you give this to Haiti?” Since then, I’ve spent many Saturdays at my local farmers market selling my artwork for this cause. I also speak at schools and universities about the conditions in Haiti and how people can make a difference in the world. So far I’ve raised over $16,000.
I was invited to Haiti by the What If? Foundation last April to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new school in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was going! I would finally be able to see the place and meet the people I’d kept in my thoughts for years—I’d get to visit the new school and volunteer at the food program and meet the children served by What If and Na Rive.
The trip was absolutely amazing. I can’t count the number of times I cried—just seeing Haiti and meeting the people there took my breath away. It was wonderful to get to know the staff of Na Rive, who work so hard administering the food and education programs. I kept thinking about what I’d read about Father Jeri—how he always had a plan: “first, we make sure the children are fed, then we educate them”—and that’s exactly what has happened. Together we have done this for the children of Ti Plas Kazo.
While I was in Haiti, someone said something to me I’ll never forget: “The problem we solve in Haiti may seem like the tip of the iceberg, but it means everything to the children we reach.” I remember it because of its truth. Because the sight of a child’s eyes lighting up when you hand them a bowl of food is the most precious and meaningful thing in the world. Donating money might not seem like a big deal to us, but to the children who receive a meal or go to school, it is everything.
I am from a very small town in the mountains of North Carolina. From my visit to Haiti I learned that I am also an important member of a team. It takes all of us, from the staff of Na Rive who run the food and educational programs, to every donor who does what she or he can to offer support, and the staff at the What If? Foundation who make it all happen — we’re all in this together. Thank you for being a member of this team.
Mwen rele Erin. Kijan ou rele?
By Erin Manuel
Dec 1st, 2016
Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,
I recently returned from Haiti, and there’s someone I’d like you to meet.
This is Christi. She’s four years old, and a preschool student enrolled at the newly opened Father Jeri School. Neither of her parents had the chance to receive an education, so knowing she has this opportunity gives them so much hope for the future.
And that hope is thanks to you.
Your support is creating so much more than meals, books, and classrooms — though it is certainly providing for all of those essentials. Your donations are seeding hope and prosperity in Haiti. For students, parents, teachers, and the entire community of Ti Plas Kazo.
Marie also spends her days at the Father Jeri School, as a teacher for the youngest children, aged three. I wish you could see her enthusiasm — it’s infectious! Marie joined the Father Jeri School because she believes in its vision to prepare these young children to become successful leaders in the community. She sees herself as an agent of positive change, for her students and for her country.
During this holiday season, please help us support more students and teachers at the Father Jeri School.
- $1 provides lunch for a student or family member.
- $25 buys a school uniform.
- $100 pays for books and supplies for the year.
- $350 covers the cost of a year’s tuition for grades K–5.
- $500 pays for a student in 6–8th grades.
The Father Jeri School is reaching the end of its first semester, and already it has had a strong effect on Ti Plas Kazo. Na Rive tells us that the school has become a cornerstone of the neighborhood. The students and teachers are filled with excitement and positive energy. Parents are hopeful and reassured. And the entire community now has a space to come together — to connect, to learn, to share a meal, and to take shelter from the aftermath of the storm.
Over the last 16 years, the What If? Foundation has stood alongside our partners through the devastating earthquake of 2010, political turmoil, drought, disease, and now the destruction of Hurricane Matthew. Thanks to your donations and Na Rive’s devotion and resourcefulness, we are able to provide immediate and effective relief. We will always respond with our partners in times of crisis. But our mission runs much deeper than that.
Together, we are standing with Na Rive and all Haitians as they build the strength and resilience to thrive, no matter what comes their way.
We’ve always appreciated the wisdom of the Haitian proverb and our motto: piti piti na rive. Little by little, we will arrive. Seemingly impossible problems are rarely solved with sweeping solutions. Change happens one child, one meal, one family, one school, one community at a time. With your support of the Father Jeri School and Na Rive’s longstanding food program, lasting change is happening in Ti Plas Kazo. Every single day.
It’s with gratitude in our hearts that we continue our mission. We hope you’ll continue to join us.
Wishing you a holiday season filled with gratitude and hope,
Nov 14th, 2016
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
It has been an emotional week. At a time when Americans feel more divided than ever, it is important to remind ourselves of the incredible power of compassion to heal and unite. Your support of the What If? Foundation proves this to me every day.
I have just returned from Haiti. There are no words to adequately thank you for your generous donations during this very difficult time post-Mathew. I witnessed first-hand that every penny is being put to vital use.
I traveled to the south to visit two of the cities that bore he brunt of the destruction. Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, used his extensive networks, power of persuasion, and leadership skills to set up a kitchen in the city of Les Cayes. Here volunteers cook hundreds of meals several times a week with the supplies you’ve funded, and then send the meals to the communities most in need. Lavarice is also partnering with Dr. Piard, the same doctor who volunteers at the Father Jeri School, to mobilize doctors and nurses for mobile clinics there.
Of course there is never enough to go around – this is truly a drop in the bucket of need – but the government is out of sight, and larger non-profit organizations are facing real struggles getting their supplies to the people. We feel truly fortunate to be able to mobilize relief efforts so quickly and effectively thanks to our unique partnership with Na Rive.
Please consider making a donation today. $1.25 funds a single hot meal. $1,875 funds a kitchen for one day.
A poor community to begin with, Les Cayes has seen most of its housing severely damaged or totally destroyed. People are taking refuge from the rain in local school buildings – where the mobile clinics and fooddistribution are taking place. I watched as more than 400 people received medical assistance from the team, followed by a much-needed meal. For so many, it was their only sustenance that day.
We then traveled one hour north to Camp Perrin. Once a small picturesque town on the banks of a river lined with palm trees, birds and beautiful views. Now there is nary a home or tree standing. The desperation here feels somehow less urgent — until the food arrives.
In spite of witnessing the relief our efforts brought these communities, I was overcome by a deep feeling of helplessness. There is so much to do, and so many in need. But Dr. Piard assured me, that beyond the vital assistance we provide, our compassion means a lot to the people we are serving. In their darkest hour, we are there standing by their side. It made me proud to be able to represent all of you, who care so much, and feel compelled to act from so far away. With the help of our friends at Na Rive, our compassion crosses borders and arrives where it’s needed most.
We’ll continue to keep you posted. In the meantime, I wish everyone peace, hope, and kindness. Piti piti na rive.
Sep 8th, 2016
Dear Friend of the What If? Foundation,
After six years of dreaming, planning, and building, the Father Jeri School is welcoming its first students this month. We are so proud to share this milestone with you, and so grateful for the support you provided to make it possible. The building itself is an incredible accomplishment, but it’s what will take place inside that has the power to change children’s lives.
“Without the What If? Foundation, I would not be able to go to school. I am grateful, because education is essential in my country if you want to be a person who does great things.”
While the beginning of the school year in Haiti is a time of celebration for some, it’s a time of sadness for others. More than 50% of school-aged children are not able to go to school
With your help, we’ve funded over 1800 scholarships for students at local schools since 2001. With the opening of the Fr. Jeri School, we are able to extend the opportunity for education to many more students. Please help us to continue to support these children.
$25 buys a school uniform.
$100 pays for books and supplies for the year.
$350 covers the cost of a year’s tuition for grades K-5.
$500 pays for a student in 6-8th grades.
Our Haitian partner, Na Rive, has established the administration and curriculum to offer classes from kindergarten through middle school. With adequate funding, Fr. Jeri School can offer life-changing education to more than 250 students.
Thank you for sharing our commitment to these children, and our hope for Haiti’s future. We can’t wait to share more stories and photos from the first days of class.
Piti piti na rive,
Aug 16th, 2016
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
During these long summer days, you can hear laughter and the buzz of children in the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood as hundreds of campers participate in the Na Rive Summer Camp. Parents are so grateful to have a positive, protected place for their kids to learn and have fun. Opportunities like summer camp are all but unheard of in Haiti, which is what makes this summer program so truly special.
“What I love most about summer camp is the chance to spend all my time learning new things and being creative. Every day is so exciting! I never imagined I would have the chance to play the keyboard and create my own music with others. I feel blessed to be a part of something so special. Most children in Haiti do not have the chance.” Carlette, age 13
Thanks to your generosity, the What If? Foundation has funded this 6-week community day camp for children ages 5-18 since 2003. It is run by our devoted partner Na Rive and gives 650 girls and boys the opportunity to create, to explore, and to celebrate being children, while learning income-producing skills. Na Rive describes the camp as life-changing for the children.
Help us continue to make this beloved
camp possibly by making a donation today.
Young campers spend the day being kids: drawing, painting, and learning arts and crafts. Teenagers register for one class of their choosing, so they have the whole summer to develop an income-producing skill that helps them build confidence and contribute to their families. Subjects include music, cooking, calligraphy, sewing, English, computer science and videography. All campers enjoy healthy lunches from the food program each day, and plenty of time to exercise and play games.
The camp is free, although families are invited to make a small donation to help cover costs, which many strive to do as an expression of their gratitude.
This program would not be possible without your support. Thank you for your commitment to the children of the Ti Plas Kazo community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
With gratitude and hope,
P.S. Please consider joining our Monthly Giving Circle. As a Monthly Giving Circle member, you join a special group of What If friends whose monthly gifts provide a reliable, steady stream of support that is critical to sustaining the food and education programs every month of the year.