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What If? Blog

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

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.