I am so deeply honored to be writing to you as the newest member of the What If Foundation team. Having stepped into the role of Executive Director a few weeks ago, I have been busy immersing myself in the organization’s history and culture and of course, getting to know our incredible Haitian partners. I have been speaking with Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, every few days. He tells me that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country, and its effects are making life extremely difficult for Haitians.
“Food remains one of our greatest challenges. Much of the staples we eat come from outside the country and with supply chains disrupted due to COVID-19, food is more scarce and at least twice more expensive than before. The lines at Lamanje have more than doubled these last few weeks. Of course, we are doing everything we can to keep people safe — making sure our kitchen staff have gloves and masks, providing handwashing stations during food distributions, encouraging social distancing among the children waiting for their “to-go” meals — but the hunger is so deep and the situation so desperate, people find it hard to keep their distance.”Lavarice Gaudin
As you know, COVID-19 comes at an already troubled time for Haiti, with historic political unrest, violence and hunger having overtaken the whole country these last two years. Unfortunately, it seems they may now be facing an above normal hurricane season as well.
But despite these tremendous challenges, I have hope. I hold that hope because of everything I have learned these last few weeks about the What If Foundation and Na Rive. The history of our respective founders, Margaret Trost and Father Gerard Jean-Juste, turning one dream into an enduring partnership and critically-needed programs that transform the lives of thousands of children. The history of these two organizations rising up and holding steady, come what may, to serve the Ti Plas Kazo community and beyond. The history of incredible generosity among our donors. I have hope that together we can face whatever comes next, as your support over the last two decades has proven.
Social justice has been my life’s passion, so joining a grassroots organization that provides for the building blocks of change is incredibly exciting to me. From my work with children in California and Idaho, I have witnessed firsthand how addressing food scarcity and education can transform a community. I am thrilled to join you in your ongoing commitment to the children and families of Ti Plas Kazo. I eagerly await my chance to visit Haiti, and also to meet all of you.
Together in Service,
What If Foundation
Check here to see what life was like at the Father Jeri School before the COVID-19 closure.