Dear Friend of What If Foundation,
The 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.
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.”
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,