Hunger and malnutrition remain a daily reality for the majority of Haitian children and their families. With the support of the What If Foundation, Na Rive launched a community food program in 2000 called “Lamanjay,” which fed a few hundred children once a week. As the What If Foundation grew and more resources became available, Na Rive expanded the food program and today, there are three ways your donations provide for the children and families of Ti Plas Kazo:
Every Monday through Friday, the Na Rive cooking team serves a hot, nutritious meal to the children who live nearby. Up to 800 meals are distributed with love each afternoon in the community cafeteria. Each child who comes for a hot meal receives a plate of fresh vegetables, rice, beans, and whenever possible a small piece of meat or fish. Food is purchased at the farmers’ market and from local distributors, supporting the Haitian economy.
Every school day, students and staff of the Fr. Jeri School are served lunch in the school cafeteria. This is a rare occurrence in Haiti, since most schools do not provide food to their students. Na Rive deeply values this daily meal since it provides critical nutritional support for learning. It also creates the bonds that nurture a powerful sense of community. Up to 350 hot meals are provided every week day.
In 2016, the Haitian government dismantled a tent community that was set up in Ti Plas Kazo after the earthquake. Hundreds of families — who had been relying on the food program for years — were forced to leave and are now miles away without permanent housing or enough income to reliably purchase food. To address this need, Na Rive created a food pantry where displaced families can pick up rice and beans to cook at home. Up to 60 families visit the food pantry each week (which amounts to approximately 240 meals per week), keeping nutrition on their tables and saving them from walking miles to Ti Plas Kazo every day.
”I like coming to the food program because they give me a big plate of food, so I’m not hungry and get to play with other children. I feel safe and happy here.”Rolande, age 7
Na Rive’s education programs aim to foster the next generation of leaders in Haiti: children who are empowered, thoughtful, proud of their heritage, and ready to work together for positive change. The cornerstone of these education efforts is the Fr. Jeri School.
Fr. Jeri School
The curriculum at the Fr. Jeri School entails a combination of high academic standards with teachings of respect, empathy, and civic duty among students and the community.
Students are encouraged to help maintain the school and surrounding yard, which helps develop their sense of responsibility and pride. In addition, their parents are encouraged to get involved in their education to better support them, which is not a given in Haiti where many parents couldn’t attend school and are unable to read and write. This approach creates a supportive environment for the students, so they can become change agents in the community.
The Fr. Jeri School welcomed its first students on September 5th, 2016. Over 300 students, aged 3-19 years old, are currently in Pre-K through high school.
Approximately 90% of schools in Haiti are private, which severely limits access to education for most children who cannot afford the fees. In 2001, the What If Foundation launched a scholarship program to support the children in Ti Plas Kazo and enable them to enroll in local schools. Scholarships cover the costs of tuition, as well as transportation, books, uniforms, and miscellaneous school fees. Members of the Na Rive team meet with all scholarship recipients throughout the year, tracking their progress and providing support.
With the opening of the Fr. Jeri School in 2016, most of our scholarship students have been transferred to the Fr. Jeri School, yet we continue to sponsor those who now live too far away from Ti Plas Kazo to attend school there every day.
This unique program gives children and families the chance to learn and refine new academic and life skills. Students get additional support in particular school subjects, and tutors and group classes are also available to students from the Fr. Jeri School and other local schools to help them prepare for the national exams. This program was instrumental in helping Fr. Jeri School students achieve a 98% pass rate on their 2018 national exams.
Enrichment classes are open to everyone in the community, with the aim of helping them learn income-generating skills and providing a nurturing space for children to be entertained and safe after school. Classes include sewing, cooking, English, computer skills, and videography, among others. More than 200 students were served by these programs in 2018.
Over six weeks during the summer, parents in Ti Plas Kazo can rely on a safe place for their children to create, explore, and celebrate being children. Classes offered include music, calligraphy, embroidery, painting, and other arts and crafts for children of all ages. Campers also get healthy lunches from the food program each day, and plenty of time to exercise and play games.
Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, describes the camp as a much-needed respite from the struggles in the children’s lives; a safe place where they can develop their confidence and learn valuable skills that will help them contribute to their families and their community.
“If you don’t know how to read or write, how can you become a president or a lawyer? We are going to school so that we can help our country and its people, because in life everything is connected.”Sarah, age 16
Since its inception, the What If Foundation has stood in solidarity with the Haitian people through political turmoil, economic crises, the devastating 2010 earthquake, drought, a cholera epidemic, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew and many other challenges. Whenever a major disaster hits, we launch special fundraising campaigns to support emergency relief efforts in Ti Plas Kazo and beyond. Na Rive’s know-how and extensive network in food purchasing and distribution, coupled with our fundraising abilities, allow us to respond quickly and effectively, providing, food, water, and medical clinics to affected communities – often before larger organizations can get there.
Na Rive Pilots
The Na Rive team is continuously looking for opportunities to better meet the needs of the community. When a clear project opportunity arises, we provide the support necessary to help make it possible. Past and current projects include: mobile medical clinics to control the spread of cholera; delivering clean drinking water; solar power panels to ensure a steady energy supply and reduce costs; inflatable solar lights so children can study at home; among others.
The impact of these projects often reaches far beyond Ti Plas Kazo to hard-to-reach communities throughout Haiti, thanks to Na Rive’s dedication to serve those most in need, as well as their ingenuity, resourcefulness, and connections to a wide network of local grassroots organizations.