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Correspondence with Haiti Spring 2004

Letter from Margaret

Dear Friends,

I spoke with Father Jean-Juste in Port-au-Prince a few days ago.  He told me the number of children who come to our food program continues to increase as the situation in Haiti deteriorates. Here’s a summary of what he shared with me:

"It's been four weeks since the coup d'etat.  It is so sad what's going on. People are hungry and frustrated.  A bag of rice is so much money now.  It looks like a terrible hurricane has gone through Port-au-Prince.  The brand new school buses are burned and destroyed. Now many children cannot attend school because they have no transportation and it is too far to walk.  It is also very dangerous, especially at night.  There are death squads going around killing Aristide supporters.  I am trying to keep hope alive here.  I used to see people smiling, even with all the challenges they faced before, but now they are down, discouraged, sad, frustrated. They used to laugh, but now they are worried about their lives.  Their dreams are gone.  The children are asking for Aristide.  They say 'he cared about us.  He must come back.'  We are still in need of your prayers. I am on a very slippery road here.  I have received death threats, but I am not scared.  I will not leave.  When you're working for God, you cannot run and hide."  

In the midst of this devastating situation, dozens of people spent yesterday and all day today - since the crack of dawn - preparing and serving today's meal.  At least five hundred children have been served and are now on their way home.

At last Sunday's meal, Father Jean-Juste told me a little boy, not more than two-years-old, called out to him.  "Father, I ate!  My tummy is full!"  

"He had a huge smile on his face.  He was so happy to have received a big plate of food. This meal is a great gift to the community,"  Father Jean-Juste said.  In a time where dreams are dying as hope fades, the food we provide through the What If? Foundation (two meals feeding 1000 children every week and daily rice and beans to the neighborhood's hungriest families) offers not only critical nutrition and calories, but also a sign of hope - that the children and their tears have not been forgotten.

Let us continue to pray for peace and a world that places food, clean water,
shelter, education and health care for all people as its top priority.

Love, Margaret

Margaret Trost, President
What If? Foundation
March 29, 2004

Letter From Father Jean-Juste

Dear Friends,

Printed below is an email I received from Father Jean-Juste on Friday.We have not been able to connect by phone for weeks, so I'm grateful he is on-line again. (His office and computer were destroyed during the coup.) Father Jean-Juste's words are heart breaking.During all my visits to Port-au-Prince over the last four years, I never imagined things could get worse. I was wrong.Yet,in the midst of the misery, our Feed My Lambs food program offers a ray of hope to the community.Today is Sunday. Hundreds of children gathered at noon to receive a nutritious meal.The only way we are able to do this is because of your generosity and the hard work of many people in Port-au-Prince. It's an extraordinary team effort with deep roots.Despite the coup, we've expanded. The new Wednesday meal is going strong.Father Jean-Juste said there was a big celebration in the community the day it began.  

Please keep Haiti in your prayers.The suffering is immense and the future is uncertain.Despite the darkness, I hold onto and believe that through love, "piti piti n a rive" - little by little we will arrive - at a world where all children will receive the food and education they need to grow healthy and strong.  

With love, Margaret
Margaret Trost, President
What If? Foundation
May 2, 2004

Father Jean-Juste's email update:

Haiti is a tough place to live in these days. The new de facto government cannot satisfy the urgent basic needs of the population. It is becoming panicky. Armed gangs and criminals who escaped from jail during the February 29th coup are running the streets causing insecurity.The church of St. Claire's has been attacked too. They have stolen our water pump.Thieves have stolen the pump at the rectory too. People are going hungry and putting a lot of pressure on the new de facto government. The assistance promised has not been delivered.The public workers are not being paid. The trash remains uncollected. No water from the State company. No more electricity. Lack of money, claim the new officials. On the radio, I've called for assistance for the government. Otherwise, more innocent people will suffer and die. There's also the possibility of more violent uprisings.

The children are complaining.They used to be so spoiled under the Aristide government. No more or very restricted public transportation for them. It is a battle to find transportation to school early in the morning and again in the afternoon so they can come back home. No more food at most public schools. They keep saying when Titid (Aristide) was president, the living conditions were better.Many of the youngsters are so desperate they are now taking boats and trying to escape to another land.Aristide has been taken - kidnapped. Democracy has been kidnapped too.We have lost some of our basic rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, particularly in the evening. People are scared. I also feel the pressure.If our Feed My Lambs food program was not taking place, Tiplas Kazo (ed: the neighborhood where the food is served) could become like downtown Port-au-Prince where living is impossible for all. Your help is allowing me to appease the needs of the community. My heart is bleeding for the people, but at least they enjoy the services we offer them. May more of us on the face of the earth hear the call of Jesus through Matthew 25. (ed: I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink...)

Politically, I hope and pray for the coming elections to be fair, bloodless and without flaws. I hope the International Community through the United Nations can assist us in a very effective way, helping to build the infra-structure of the country. We need roads, sewage canals, schools, health clinics, etc.

God's blessing always!
Gerry  (Father Gerard Jean-Juste)

Margaret Trost, President
What If? Foundation
1563 Solano Ave., #192
Berkeley, CA  94707

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Read Margaret Trost's correspondence with Father Jean-Juste in Haiti to hear how the Feed My Lambs Program continues in spite of the coup, hurricanes & Father Jean-Juste's political imprisonment in October 2004. You'll find articles, editorials and contacts to help free Father Jean-Juste since his imprisonment at the What If? Foundation Archive at Satya Center.

What If? Foundation Archive

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