Thursday, October 27, 2011

COW: What If? foundation

Alejandro Groenwold- Flickr

Earlier this week I told you about my new Charity of the Week (COW) plan- where I tell you about a great organization that I'm supporting with a small donation. If you feel inspired to contribute too, I will give you a link to make a donation. If not, wait until you see one that really speaks to you. Or, send me a suggestion!

This week's COW is the What If? foundation.

In preparaton for my Haiti trip (I'm leaving in two weeks!)  I read a really wonderful and inspiring book called On That Day Everybody Ate by Margaret Trost. Mrs. Trost traveled to Port-au-Prince in 1999 on a mission trip. She met a Catholic priest named Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, who shared his vision of a program to provide nutritious meals for the children of the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood. Mrs. Trost was both deeply disturbed by the extreme poverty she encountered, and deeply inspired by the hopefulness of Fr. Gerry.

Many Christians would return from a trip like that with committment to donate more to help world poverty or to waste less food at home or to pray more intensely for those who lacked basic necessities. Instead, Mrs. Trost decided to help Fr. Gerry's dream become a reality and started collecting money to fund a food program. She eventually started an organization called the What If? foundation.

The organization has grown over the past 11 years from a once a week lunch program feeding 200-500 children to a five day per week program feeding around 800 children and 200 adults. There is also a scholarship program to assist with school tuition, a summer camp, and an after school program.

When I read the book, I was really excited to see that the programs were organized and run mainly by the Haitian people. Initially Mrs. Trost provided the funding and the rest was up to Fr. Gerry and some members of his congregation. Food for the meals is purchased from local farmers and the organizaton began a Hatian Rice initiative in 2010 (Most of the rice consumed in Haiti is imported from the US because subsidies make it cheaper than Hatian grown rice. This eventually put many Hatian rice producers out of business). Through these practices, the programs help the entire community, not just those who come for meals or attend the after school program.

I could keep writing about the incredible impact of this organization, but instead I will refer you to the photo gallery on the foundation's website. I dare you to look at the photos and not find a few dollars to support this cause.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and let me know what you think about my very first COW!

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