2021 is an important year for us. This October will mark the 20th anniversary of the What If Foundation — the moment we became a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting the children and families in Ti Plas Kazo.
Our founder, Margaret Trost shared a vision with the legendary Father Gerard Jean-Juste after her first trip to Haiti and took a leap of faith. She asked her friends at home for help, and with a single miraculous check, she and Father Jeri began a journey that changed the lives of thousands of Haitians, along with their own.
That first check funded a meal program, once a week. But the vision was so much bigger: fighting hunger and creating access to education as the path to a brighter future. As Father Jeri used to say “First we feed the children, we keep them alive. Then we focus on education.” And thanks to the compassion and support of our donors, their beautiful vision slowly became a reality. Once a week became two, then three, then four, and now 20 years later, our Haitian partners serve 800 children a nourishing meal five days a week.
Money was raised for scholarships to see talented students pursue their potential, while Margaret and Father Jeri dreamed of a campus of Na Rive’s own. Together, we built the Father Jeri School in 2016, and now over 375 students can access one of the best educations in Haiti in a nurturing environment. And I’m thrilled to report that despite last year’s challenges, Father Jeri School students are thriving — 95% graduated from high school last year and at least 30% of them received full state scholarships to the university of their choice, an incredible accomplishment given very few spots are awarded each year in Haiti.
I couldn’t hope for anyone better to kick off our 20th anniversary celebration than our founder Margaret Trost. We asked Margaret to share her thoughts on this auspicious occasion.
A message from our founder Margaret Trost
Together, we have done so much. Your compassion and generosity have funded possibility and hope for generations of Haitians. Together, you and our entire family of donors and supporters, our partners at Na Rive and the What If Foundation have stood in solidarity and forged ahead one step at a time, no matter the challenges. That’s how we’ve always done it and how we always will.
So I invite you to celebrate this anniversary year with us. We’ll be rejoicing all year long, sharing videos and messages from our Haitian partners, our board, and hopefully, from some of you! Whether you are a new donor or someone who has been with us for years, we’d love to hear your stories — your favorite memories, why you were inspired to give, or your recollections of Haiti, if you were able to visit.
We are so grateful for each of you. Happy 2021. There is much to look forward to.
Together in Service,
What If Foundation