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From: Margaret Trost
President of What If? Foundation
September 26, 2006
I have lots of good news to share with you about our food and education programs in Haiti and Fr. Jean-Juste’s health. It’s been a very exciting last few weeks! Here’s what’s happening:
Fr. Jean-Juste’s Health:
Fr. Jean-Juste (a.k.a. Fr. Gerry) just finished his final chemotherapy treatment and received word last week from his doctor that the leukemia is gone! We’re all so happy, relieved, and thankful! He’s still in Miami being monitored by his doctors, but hopes to return to Haiti and St. Clare’s Church in the next few months. I had the chance to spend time with Fr. Gerry two weeks ago when he visited the Bay Area to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco. It was so wonderful to see him recognized in this way!
We just finished enrolling 102 students in school. This is more than double the number of students we helped last year. Through our education program, we pay their tuition, transportation, books, uniform and other miscellaneous expenses. We have two wonderful Education Coordinators in Port-au-Prince who help us coordinate all of this. Last year, of the 49 students we sponsored, 45 of them passed the required state exam for grade advancement. The national Haitian average for passing is only 35%, so our students are doing great!
Still averaging about 1,000 people (most of them children) every Monday - Friday, our food program is running smoothly. The situation in Port-au-Prince has not improved, so our meals are needed more than ever. Visit our website to see new pictures I took of the devoted cooks that make it happen every day.
450 children spent six weeks at our 4th Annual Summer Arts Camp. They gathered Monday – Friday at the St. Clare’s Rectory for arts and crafts classes, games, and lunch. The teachers reported that the camp was great fun and provided opportunities that the children rarely receive. Visit our website to see pictures:
Steps Towards a Vegetable Garden:
We’ve asked S.O.I.L. (sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods, http://www.oursoil.org to install a composing toilet at the St. Clare’s Rectory. Toilets are so needed and converting waste to compost makes a lot of sense. This is an important step in the direction of creating a vegetable garden around the rectory building. S.O.I.L. will also work with us to set up a rainwater collection site at the rectory.
As you can see, your donations are being put to good use. Thank you so much for your continued support and for helping me spread the word about our programs. We’ve expanded quickly and need to identify more resources to be able to keep everything going at this level. Any help you can give me to reach new donors is so appreciated. And remember, 97% of every dollar goes directly to programs.
To donate, click here on http://www.whatiffoundation.org/websitePages.asp?websiteNumber=2 or send a check to the What If? Foundation at 1563 Solano Ave., #192, Berkeley, CA 94707
Providing Hope and Opportunity to Impoverished Children in Haiti
July 31, 2006
....as I type this note, 450 children are gathered at our 4th Annual What If? Foundation Summer Camp. It's running beautifully and is offering the children and staff a few hours each day of fun and relief from the intensity of life in Port-au-Prince.
Throughout the summer, more and more children have found their way to the St. Clare's Rectory for a hot meal. Our food program coordinator told me in a recent email that we averaged 1400 meals/day (Monday – Friday) in July. 480 at the Summer Camp (450 children and 30 staff) and another 900 - 1,000 being served at the regular food program time. I am so grateful to our cooks and all the other members of St. Clare's who run our programs. Their dedication and love makes it possible for us to keep the food flowing. And I want to thank you too for keeping the donations flowing. Because of your generosity, we’ve been able to pay for all the meals, which are making a huge difference in the lives of the children.
Many of you have asked how Fr. Jean-Juste is doing. He is still in Miami receiving treatment for leukemia and plans to return to Haiti as soon as the treatments end.
Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement. Thank you also for spreading the word about the What If? Foundation and our programs with your friends.
June 4, 2006
Dear Friends of the What If? Foundation,
It’s been a couple weeks since my return from Port-au-Prince. I had an excellent trip! Reconnecting with the extraordinary members of St. Clare’s Church, helping pass the plates at our food program, meeting with our students, planting trees at the rectory - my time in Haiti was full and fulfilling. I was so moved by the dedication of all the people who make our programs work - our cooks and education coordinators. They are committed to the children and expressed over and over again their gratitude to you for providing the resources that allow them to serve their community. Thank you!
Here’s a brief report on my trip:
Feed My Lambs Food Program:
We’re serving five meals/week now and they’re making such a difference! It’s a huge undertaking, but it’s running very smoothly. I had a chance to spend time in the kitchen with our amazing cooks who spend 10 - 12 hours/day preparing the meals. They are so devoted to the program and the children. I was told that malnutrition has diminished among the children in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood as a result of our meals. What a cause for celebration that is!
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to watch hundreds of children receive their only meal of the day at the St. Clare’s Rectory. The look of relief and happiness in their faces as they eat a bowl full of rice, beans and turkey inspires me to continue to share their story and the very tangible, grass roots way that they are being helped through this program.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was meeting with the students we sponsor. We’re up to 50 students now and they’re really doing well. During our time together, they stood up one at a time and gave the most heartfelt expression of gratitude. The youngest was six years old. The oldest will graduate from high school this month. They all take their education very seriously, knowing it is critical for a better life. They told me they’re studying hard and have dreams for the future. They were confident and proud as they spoke and as I looked at them I thought, “here is the future of Haiti.”
Plans are underway for our 4th annual Summer Camp. All the kids I talked to are so excited about it! “It’s starting to be a tradition in the community,” the camp director told me. “The children have a chance to get special training in art that will help them economically and socially for their whole life.” Over 400 children are expected to attend again this year. The camp starts in July and is planned to run for six weeks.
Fr. Jean-Juste sends his greetings from Miami where he is still receiving chemotherapy for leukemia. The doctors say he is doing well and I thought he looked great – full of energy and life. He hopes to return to St. Clare’s in August.
I took lots of pictures and will be posting them on our website soon. Those of you on our mailing list have received (or will receive soon) a note from me along with a copy of our 2005 Annual Report. (The Annual Report can be downloaded from our website.) I’m so happy about all we were able to accomplish last year thanks to your generosity and the hard work of our friends in Haiti.
As I look ahead to the rest of 2006, I know we will need more resources to keep our programs going at this level. Please spread the word about our work with your friends. Feel free to forward this email. If you are able to give a donation, please do. The gifts you send make such a difference. Fifty cents feeds a child a meal at our food program. $250 sends a child to school for a year.
Thank you again for all of your support, encouragement and prayers.
To make a contribution, visit http://www.whatiffoundation.org or make checks out to What If? Foundation and mail to What If? Foundation, 1563 Solano Ave., #192, Berkeley, CA 94707. All donations are tax deductible.