It’s World Book Day, and we want to take this opportunity to highlight a book that is dear to our hearts, On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman’s Story of Hope and Possibility in Haiti, written by our founder Margaret Trost. It was published in 2008, but time hasn’t changed its deeply inspiring message of hope.
On That Day, Everybody Ate received a Mom’s Choice Award and has been read by thousands including students in several high schools and colleges across the country. It is a “deeply affecting story… (a) small, polished gem of a book (that) is one compelling answer to many questions about how to inject meaning in our lives without doing damage to history–without ignoring or erasing the ties that bind us all together” as Dr. Paul Farmer wrote in the book’s foreword
Margaret: I remember feeling a strong inner prompting to write this book; to capture in writing the profound experiences I had in Haiti and how the Haitian people I’d come to know and love had changed my life and taught me so much about what really matters – putting love into action, caring for each other, being courageous and resilient, holding onto hope and possibility in the midst of enormous obstacles, taking small steps to create positive change, and much more.
The women of Son Fils hospice, Father Jeri, and members of the Ti Plas Kazo community opened my eyes and my heart to the suffering of the world and the search for how to respond. This book gave me a chance to share my personal journey with the hope that through my words I could take readers with me to Haiti to see what I saw, meet the people I met, and experience some of what happened in the early days when the food program was just getting started.
A chapter that I’ve re-read many times over the years is the “Piti Piti Na Rive” chapter. It describes the day when Father Jeri shared his vision for a neighborhood school with me. It seemed like an impossible vision at first, but then he taught me the Haitian proverb that has guided my life and the What If Foundation ever since — piti piti na rive, little by little we will arrive. I still can vividly picture where we were standing when he said:
“One step at a time, Margaret. In Haiti, sometimes they are very, very small steps. But it’s important to keep taking steps, even though they are small. Never lose hope. Never give up. One day, maybe not during my lifetime, but one day, we will get there.”
The school was not built in Father Jeri’s lifetime. But as we all know, the What If Foundation and Na Rive did not lose hope or give up and today there are nearly 500 students attending the Father Jeri School. The seeds planted all those years ago grew deep roots and have blossomed daily through the food and education programs we all support.
I am so grateful that On That Day, Everybody Ate remains in print so that its readers can experience Haiti more deeply and learn more about how our partnership with Na Rive got started. I feel that messages of hope, peace, and possibilities are so needed, especially now, as are examples of partnering respectfully and collaboratively across cultures and countries with love leading the way.
Margaret’s book, written nearly 15 years ago, laid the foundation of the mission and vision of What If Foundation and our approach to effecting change in Haiti. It continues to raise awareness of the critical need in Haiti, reminding us that even though the challenges Haitian’s face each day can seem insurmountable, together, little by little, one step at a time, we can all make a difference in the lives of Haitian children and families.
What If Foundation