A Story about My Mom, Haiti, and Irresistible Math

As I write this blog, Worldbuilders has raised nearly $516,000.

That was going to be my big announcement today, that we broke half a million dollars.

But it turns out I actually have a much bigger piece of news to share.

Today, Heifer International is running a special event in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. For one day, all donations made to Heifer will be matched and put toward their work in Haiti.

There’s two reasons that this is a big deal for me.

The first reason has to do with my mom. I don’t talk about her a lot on the blog, though I think of her constantly.

Marge and Patrick at Beach 1-1

(Here she is. With her little boy, long ago.)

You see, years and years ago, my mom went to Haiti.

It’s a long story, but the nutshell version is that she moved down to Haiti for two weeks to help run an orphanage in Port au Prince. This orphanage took care of babies that people abandoned at hospitals, usually because the babies were really sick, or they had permanently debilitating medical conditions. The parents left the children because they were desperately poor, and had no way to pay for their care.

Marge 1 068 (2) - Copy

But the hospitals couldn’t afford to care for the kids, either. Because the government in Haiti doesn’t pay for that. And the orphanage wasn’t in the nice part of town, so the government wasn’t giving them any money either. As a result, this wasn’t one of those posh orphanages like in Annie. They didn’t have beds for the kids, for one thing. But that doesn’t even begin to paint the picture for you. Huge swaths of Port au Prince don’t have any infrastructure at all, so the orphanage didn’t have luxuries like, say, running water.

Imagine that. Imagine taking care of these poor disabled babies and not having any running water. And I don’t mean that they couldn’t take showers regularly. I mean nothing came out of the faucets. They got water out of a cistern that was open to the air. They hoped for rain to re-fill it, and they had to boil every drop they drank and cooked with.

As a result, my mom came back from Haiti with a parasitic infection that took her years of serious medicine to get rid of.

She also came back with stories.

Marge in Haiti

I could tell you a lot of stories about the time my mother spent there. But the truth is, if you’ve read my books, you already know some of them. When she was there, my mom met an old barefoot man who took care of orphan boys with physical and developmental problems. A lot of times the boys were dangerous to themselves or others.

I saw a picture of him once. My mom said he was barefoot all the time, and she suspected he might have been a Trappist monk at some point in his life.

Sound familiar?

The stories my mom brought back from Haiti gave me my first glimmering realization that not everyone’s life was like mine. Not everyone could microwave a burrito when they got hungry. Not everyone had clean water to drink. There was an entirely different world out there where people were so poor, they had to abandon their babies if they were born sick.

So. That’s the first part of the reason I’m excited about Heifer matching donations today and all the proceeds are going to projects in Haiti. Because the roots of Worldbuilders go all the way back to my mom’s experiences there. The stories she told me.

The second reason I’m excited is when we caught wind of Heifer’s event last night, we gave them a call and did our very best fast-talking. And because Heifer is full of cool people, they’ve agreed to let our fundraiser take part in their event.

This means, that for the entire day, every dollar you donate on the Worldbuilders team page will be matched. (And you’ll be entered in our prize lottery.)

This is great news for us. Huge news. And I can’t thank Heifer enough for being willing to work with us on such short notice to make this happen.

But even so, something hasn’t been sitting right with me. I’ve been up all night rolling this around in my head. I’ve been looking through old pictures and thinking about my mom.

Marge 1 001 (3) - Copy

If my mom was still around, she would be moving heaven and earth today for this fundraiser. She’s be baking cookies and making quilts and talking to people at church. She would be filming goofy stretch goals and helping us package up orders in Tinker’s Packs.

And she’d do more than that. She’d put her money where her mouth was.

But here’s the thing. At the start of this year’s fundraiser, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to donate any more money to Worldbuilders. I’d talked myself out of it. I’d already given a bunch of money to charity this year, (Syrian Refugees, First Book, etc.) I’d done my part. I was going to be done.

And besides, I’ve kinda been saving up to build a house out in the country.

And besides, I already give a bunch of my time and energy to the fundraiser, right?

And then I think about my mom. And I think about kids in Haiti.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

If you donate to Worldbuilders today. I’m going to match your donation. Then we’re going to take ALL that money to Heifer and they’ll match both of us. So if you chip in today, your donation will be doubled, then doubled again.

I’ll match up to 100,000 dollars. I’ll let you do the math on that.

Come on, folks. Let’s be awesome together.

Here’s your link.

[Edit: Hey guys, Amanda here! I’ll be in the comments answering questions all day, and we’ve had a fair number come in already, but you can always email us at questions [@] worldbuilders.org as well]

This entry was posted in babies, mom, Worldbuilders 2015By Pat68 Responses


  1. Posted December 1, 2015 at 8:56 AM | Permalink

    I’m off to bed now. I’m excited to see where today will take us.

    But I’ve got to do my livestream at 4:00 CST today. And that will require a little rest first.

    I look forward to seeing what this looks like when I wake up.

    • blarglesnarf
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

      This is incredible. Thank you for all you do for the truly poor in the world. I’ve spent several years in third world countries and seen the needs that you are addressing. While I love your books, I think this endeavor is so much more important and I hope you are remembered for everything you’ve done here as well as for being an incredible author.

  2. jrice410
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    Cool story. Cool mom. I’m in for some.
    …but seriously, build that house, too. :-)

  3. Kthaeh
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

    Obviously you already know this, but your mom was a really beautiful person. Her face looks nice too, by the way. Thanks for sharing her with us.

    Really glad my procrastination is going to pay off big time.

    • Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

      This made me smile.

      • Kthaeh
        Posted December 1, 2015 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

        Knowing I made you smile makes my evening. :)

    • somandyjo
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

      Your second sentence is possibly the best looks compliment I’ve ever seen. :)

  4. Brady Dill
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    This is amazing. Also, your kids look exactly like young you.

    • LizisSparta
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

      I second that.

  5. Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate story with your fans. It takes courage to post something like this.

  6. LizisSparta
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    That is really great and has me in tears of appreciation. You know, I’ve already donated. And I’m saving for a house, too. BUT. I have clean water, a roof over my head and warm clothes for me and my family. I can donate once more.

    And Pat, please never feel that you yourself are not doing enough. You’re doing plenty. And you derserve to build a house and play Fallout, too!

    • F.N.T.
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

      Seconded. With bells on.

  7. Vesves
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    I just wanted to tell you that your mother is absolutely beautiful, in more ways than one, and she kind of takes my breath away.

    I am always glad to be a part of this cause.

  8. OceanCradle
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    Does this count in the money earned through the tinker packs? Because if so, I will have to buy all my presents today and encourage everyone else to do the same.

    On a sitenote: There are a lot of touching passages in your books that are good for goose bumps and watery eyes, but there is one sentence in particular that allways gets me: “If anyone had ever raised a hand to Trapis, a hundred howling children would have torn them to bloody scraps in the middle of the street.” I guess the stories about your mom explain why this is so powerfull.
    Thanks to your mom for everything she did, and thank you for dwelling on language and taking your time with it.

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

      Orders in the Tinker’s Packs won’t count, unfortunately, just straight donations on the fundraiser page.

  9. lykashii
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    I am now crying in my lecture, about to give a presentation :’) I know I shouldn’t be reading this whilst studying.. but honestly this made my heart ache.
    I really love that’s where Trapis came from. I can’t even think of the words to say how much this post affected me.
    I keep getting teary with all your blogs lately!

  10. Morag
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    Pat, your mom is beautiful. Thank you for sharing such lovely photos. How wonderful that both she and her words live on, not only in your stories, but in the kind of generous soul she clearly raised you to be.

    Thank you.

  11. Vicemage
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    When I got up this morning, I realized that, when I was picking up some gifts yesterday, I’d forgotten to put in my donation to Worldbuilders, and needed to get on that today.

    I think I somehow knew, even though I hadn’t seen it yet, that today was the day to put that donation in.

    Thank you for the stories and photos, Pat, and for running the fundraiser. And thank you to both you and Heifer for matching today’s donations. (And I’m not crying over the stories, really, it just suddenly got really humid in here.)

  12. priscellie
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

    That story is amazing, Pat. I wish I could’ve known your mother. She sounds freaking incredible, and she’s raised one hell of a son. The work you and the Worldbuilders team are doing is transforming the world for the better.

    What time/time zone is the cutoff for this incredibly generous offer? Today also happens to be the last day to pre-order one of my fantasy maps signed by Jim Butcher in time for the holidays, and I’d like to donate a portion of sales. I want to make sure I get my donation in under the wire!

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

      I just double checked with the folks at Heifer, and since they’re located in Central Time, that’s our cut off: 11:59pm CST tonight. Thanks for asking, I hadn’t even thought of that.

  13. thatmikelee
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Do donations on my classy.org fundraising page which go toward the Worldbuilders campaign count? Would like to be notified if my friends donate but want to make sure they’re part of the matching.

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

      Yes, that still counts!

      • thatmikelee
        Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

        Yay. Thanks!

  14. Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    Does it still count if we have the donation credited to someone’s page (say, the WriMos for Worldbuilders) or should we select ‘No Thank You’ for that question?

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

      That still counts, thanks for checking!

  15. AutumnRLS
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    You’re mother was beautiful and so are you.

  16. lazytrini
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    You, your mom and your whole team are all beautiful people. Keep doing what you’re doing to make the world a little better.

  17. mynameistawny
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of your mom. She sounds like an amazing, generous woman and I am honored to hear her story.

    After 2010, I had a lot of friends go out there and serve in the orphanages and hospitals. They returned with unbelievable stories.

    So, I am inspired after your mom’s generosity, Heifer’s generosity, and your generosity. I hope my small amount will be quadrupled and will bless many lives.

  18. Eoghan O Sullivan
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    I was not expecting to read something that would make me feel this emotional in my university library today. Donation made. :)

  19. Beanalby
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    HOLY SHIT, TRAPIS IS REAL. That hit me like a ton of bricks.

    I remember wishing I could help Trapis when reading the books. I too thought I was done donating this year…

    • cobalt917
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

      This was exactly the response I had to this post, too. Getting a glimpse into the amazingly generous roots of a story that I love so much is incredible.

      My donation is in, as is my matching request to my employer.

      Keep up the good work, Pat!

  20. blooblyblobl
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Hi Amanda, we wanted to ask some family members to donate to Worldbuilders on our behalf today in lieu of Christmas presents, but they’re not big into Fantasy, is there a way for them to donate and have us entered in the lottery for that donation instead? Thanks!

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

      That’s a great question. Email us at questions [at] worldbuilders.org and we’ll work out the details, it should be as easy as setting up a Fundraiser page and then having us assign everything on that page to you specifically when the prize draw time comes :)

      • blooblyblobl
        Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

        Easy enough, thanks!

  21. Fishanimal
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    I absolutely love reading your blogs. They are always moving and they encourage me to be a better person. Thank you so much for everything you do and choose to share with your fans.
    Also, it’s pretty incredible that you are able to write these blogs, and not get any trolls. You have awesome fans. Keep up the great work.

  22. goobermunch
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Permalink


    Are there going to be updates during the day reflecting the donations folks have made?


    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

      I haven’t done so yet, and Pat went to sleep early this morning, but we’ve raised over $80,000 today already :D

  23. CiaraNiLuing
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    I’m a long time lurker but I created an account just so I could say that your generosity and story brought a tear to my eye. My faith in humanity is restored when I read things like this.

    Also your mother was beautiful and Oot looks so like you at that age.

  24. MeepleMinion
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    Just donated, but pressed the PayPal-button too fast, so had no chance to put in an address.
    This will not be a problem, right?

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Permalink

      If you win a prize, we’ll need to contact you before we can ship your prize out, but as long as your email is valid we should be okay :)

  25. leannalynne
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    My mom would also have thought this was awesome. If you decided that you are donating (even though you’ve already done a ton this year), I can do the same.

  26. cynrtst
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    Your mother was beautiful in all ways. And she taught you the best way to be. Unselfish.

  27. kdculb
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 12:38 PM | Permalink


    There are 2 different donation pages. One just says Classy at the top and one says Thank You for Supporting Worldbuilders and Heifer at the top. Do these both support the same thing, or are they for different things?


    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

      They’re techincally different things, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the Classy page and re-allocating donations made there accidentally toward the actual fundraiser. When in doubt, go to http://worldbuilders.org/fundraiser and it’ll always take you to the right place :)

  28. HugorOfTheHill
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    Hey, this is amazing and I’m glad to donate.

    As a side note- your mother looks a lot like how imagined Denna. I wounder if it is intentional and if it was, what would Freud have thought of it.

  29. Posted December 1, 2015 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Thank you, Pat. This was very inspiring. It reminded me of my own mother, who died when I was 20. I also know what she would have done in this situation, I know she would be happy to know some of my money goes to Worldbuilders. Thank you for keep touching our hearts with your stories (both books and posts). A donation and a big hug from Spain.

  30. AnnafromA2
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Wow Pat. I had already donated to this year’s campaign. But with a double double deal like that I can’t hold back. Worldbuilders gets some more of my money, and I will spread the word.

  31. TheHuggingTree
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    Thank you Pat,
    I’ve never been so excited to cost you money.

  32. knightofni
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Awesome, Mr. Rothfuss! Donated again, and wanted to remind people who have company matching to make sure and apply for those funds, as well!

  33. Destrike
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Amanda, does this mean if I put in $10, Pat puts in another $10, and heifer matches both and makes it $40? Or are Pat matches not included in the Heifer matching?

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

      Yup, Heifer will be matching both, making it $40 if you donate $10!

      • Destrike
        Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

        Awesome stuff, thanks Amanda! Wife and I are sending out the updated social media posts now :D

  34. bluezone
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    The article did it for me. Donated. How about you?


  35. Constance
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    I had bought stuff from Tinker’s Packs for the fundraiser but I had to toss in another $25 so it will become $100.00

    Pat – your mother would be so proud of you and the human being you’ve become. Thank you for sharing her story with us and a tidbit about Trapis being a real person.

  36. Posted December 1, 2015 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, your story was so perfect, I made my donation in honor of my own mom. She gets two whole goats! It will be her Christmas gift this year! Also, my near-2-year-old totally has one of those owlbears on the way.

    • Constance
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

      My husband’s D&D Druid has an Owlbear companion. I could not resist buying him one.

  37. drockwood94
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    This is the first time I’ve been financially stable enough to donate. I’m so glad that my meager donation could be quadrupled to make an even bigger difference!

    • Posted December 2, 2015 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

      Welcome to the team. Thanks so much.

  38. Posted December 1, 2015 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    I’d have never guessed that a fellow Bearded fiend would be able to make me cry so much…but Your heartfelt entries regularly do. I’m such a sap. gah! I also went to Haiti for a couple weeks in 1990 and helped in churches and orphanages and was mobbed with curiosity by kids and had my heart ripped out every day by some need or situation. Thankfully I avoided all the nasty bacterial buggers…but the trip changed me on a base level…as trips to the third world tend to do if You have an open heart. I need to get back out there. I fall back into complacency and taking all I have for granted so easily…as we all do. You’re a good man, Pat. I barely know You and I’m proud of You. I know those dearest to Your heart are and would be proud of You too.

  39. Posted December 1, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Couple weeks ago or so Pat was talking on the Fallout 4 stream about his hard sell for Worldbuilders and how we hadn’t seen anything close to that yet. It’s tempting to imagine such as thing as him praising Heifer to high heavens and making you feel real bad for not donating. But that’s not how Rothfuss do.

    Pat’s hard sell is a heartfelt story that makes you want to rally to his cause while making you feel good about it. Couldn’t be any other way.

    I’m sold, and sure hope so are you.

  40. z-squared
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

    I tried to donate once, but the processing message timed out. When I didn’t receive a receipt, I hit donate again. Now I’ve still only received one receipt, but my Classy page lists two identical donations. Who can I contact to confirm how many times I’ve actually been charged? I wish I could double my own donation to match all the awesome doubling already taking place today, but sadly, that’s just not an option…

    • Amanda
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

      Contact us at questions (at) worldbuilders.org. We should be able to work something out.

  41. Posted December 1, 2015 at 6:42 PM | Permalink


    I’ve made it an annual tradition to donate to heifer. I fully support what you’re doing. I’m not sure if you remember but I was in Haiti for a while after the earthquake, at an orphanage, and it was… hard. I don’t want to get into everything but reading a new rothfuss blog was a rare joy for me down there. I consistently checked for new ones and they helped me to get away for a little while so I could focus on being “present” with the kids the rest of the time.

    We also exchanged an email or two. I regret that I haven’t been back in a few years, but I don’t ever regret my time there. Thank you for being such an awesome person, a fantastic author, and for making me cry at least twice, maybe more.

    Keep truckin,

  42. scoyyz
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

    Well, I had already donated this campaign, but this post made me do it again! I’m also really curious as to what the “anything other than Fallout 4” will end up being!

  43. SporkTastic
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

    Hush, hush…

    I wondered where that experience came from. Your mom was an amazing person, and it looks like you’re continuing that trend.

    • SporkTastic
      Posted December 1, 2015 at 9:54 PM | Permalink

      …also, I donated at midnight thirty today, will that count? I’d like it to count, although I was unaware of any matching or helping of Haiti taking place.

  44. grinch
    Posted December 1, 2015 at 10:14 PM | Permalink

    Dagnabbit, Rothfuss! I hadn’t yet got around to making my annual donation, and after reading your post this morning I promptly remedied that. Now checking in this evening I see that the Donation-O-Matic has jumped almost $200k since you issued your challenge this morning. While that is awesome, now I have guilt because I have contributed to the depletion of the Rothfuss Home In The Country fund! I think we should all petition George R. R. Martin to sell his castle, donate to Worldbuilders, and help you get your little house on the prairie built. I think you do enough for Heifer International already, without giving ALL your cake away…in any case, bless you and your family.

  45. cynrtst
    Posted April 17, 2016 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    Pat, your mom was beautiful inside and out. Just thought you needed to hear this again, so far in the future from this blog.

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