How one can assist Haitian-led organizations in Pa. present reduction to the Caribbean nation

  • Gabriela Martinez

    Gabriela Martínez is a member of the Report for America Corps, specializing in race and identity in central Pennsylvania with an emphasis on the area’s growing Latino community. She is interested in grassroots political movements and reports on the discussions that take place in underrepresented color communities.

    She previously worked as an Associate Producer at Kentucky Educational Television (KET), producing stories about the various regions of the Commonwealth and contributing to state legislature coverage. She also worked as a news assistant at PBS NewsHour, did an internship at WAMU 88.5 and was a Fulbright English teacher in Russia. Gabriela holds a Masters degree in Multiplatform Journalism from the University of Maryland.

    Gabriela was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is fluent in Spanish, English and Russian.

August 24, 2021 | 7:17 pm

August was a deadly month for Haiti. A 7.2 magnitude earthquake followed by a tropical storm killed more than 2,000 people and left thousands more injured and homeless.

The disaster also affects the Haitian diaspora in the United States, many of whom have family members in the country and are looking for ways to help them. Here are some Haitian-run nonprofits and other humanitarian organizations in Pennsylvania that are working to send aid to Haitians.

Fellow in Christ Pennsylvania / Bring the change

James Civil is the founder of Companion in Christ, Pennsylvania, a Reading ministry. His brother Alexander Civil is the executive director of another local nonprofit, Bring the Change. Both were born in Haiti and have lived in the United States since 2002.

Together, the civil brothers coordinate the distribution of humanitarian aid in Haiti with 25 employees on site in the Caribbean country, including a cousin. The Hope For Haiti campaign will collect supplies like tents, flashlights, canned food and toiletries and then send a delivery truck filled with supplies from New Jersey to Haiti. The organization raises the $ 2,000 required to ship the vehicle.

Courtesy James Civil, Companion in Christ of Pennsylvania

James Civil of Companion in Christ of Pennsylvania speaks to another person through his charity cart.

“If we send the van there, my staff will take care of it and then they’ll take care of the distribution,” said James. “They won’t be people we don’t know.”

It takes about a month for the van to arrive. In the meantime, the organization is sending money to employees in Haiti to help buy and distribute food.

“The goal is to help as many people as possible with the minimum resources we have because I don’t necessarily think you have to wait until you have millions to help,” he said, adding that in a country like Haiti, “a little can do a lot.”

To learn more about the Hope for Haiti Drive, email [email protected] or call 484-258-9149.

Philadelphia Haitian American Chamber of Commerce

The Philadelphia Haitian American Chamber of Commerce and the Haitian Business Association are raising funds to help rebuild 300 homes and support businesses in Haiti. The organizations are planning a humanitarian trip to the country to help with reconstruction and provide psychological support.

“Other programs we will launch are mental health and support groups for grieving families, financial support for families with school-age children, medical and medical care,” the organizations wrote on their donation page.

Philadelphia Haitian Tabernacle

The Philadelphia Haitian group raises funds for earthquake victims.

Deacon Gilbert Ovide collects donations through his non-profit educational institution GOIFHE and sends care packages to the Bethel School of Solon in Cayes. GOIFHE works with local non-profit educational institutions, schools and hospitals.

Crayons for Haiti, Inc.

This small Philadelphia-based nonprofit was founded by Yves-Marie Desir and is dedicated to promoting literacy, the arts and entrepreneurship in Haiti. She has been providing humanitarian aid to the country since 2014. The organization is planning a trip to distribute aid and workshops in Haiti.

For more information, send an email to [email protected]

Organization not run by Haitians

Mennonite Central Committee

The Ephrata-based Mennonite Central Committee has served Haiti for more than 60 years.

The Mennonite Central Committee has a warehouse in Port-au-Prince that holds a variety of aid kits including toiletries, duvets and baby care products. The organization sent a container with relief supplies to Haiti three days before the earthquake and is looking into sending another one.

Tom Wenger, the organization’s material resources coordinator, says reaching the hardest hit regions of the country due to road closures has been a challenge.

“Access is still difficult,” said Wenger. “Transport and communication are difficult in the badly affected area. For example, the main road south of Port-au-Prince was closed to this area. “

The global non-profit organization is not run by Haitians and has no employees in Haiti. They rely on local NGOs to distribute the humanitarian kits in their warehouses.

Gabriela Martínez is part of the Report for America program – a national service that places journalists in newsrooms across the country to cover undercover issues and communities.