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How you can help Haitian-led organizations in Pa. provide relief to the Caribbean country

  • Gabriela Martínez/WITF
Residents whose homes were damaged during the earthquake campout at a soccer field in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

 Fernando Llano / AP Photo

Residents whose homes were damaged during the earthquake campout at a soccer field in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021.

Correction: The initial version of this story incorrectly described how MCC is distributing relief supplies in Haiti.

August has been 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 trying to find ways to help. Here are some Haitian-led nonprofits and other humanitarian organizations in Pennsylvania that are working to send aid to Haitians.

Companion in Christ Pennsylvania / Bring the Change

James Civil is the founder of Companion in Christ in Pennsylvania, a ministry in Reading. 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 are coordinating the distribution of humanitarian supplies in Haiti with 25 staff members on the ground in the Caribbean country, including a cousin. The Hope For Haiti drive will gather supplies including tents, flashlights, canned goods and hygiene items, then ship a supply-filled van to Haiti from New Jersey. The organization is raising the $2,000 needed to ship the vehicle.

Courtesy of James Civil, Companion in Christ of Pennsylvania

James Civil from Companion in Christ of Pennsylvania speaks with another person by his donation van.

“When we’re sending that van over there, it’s going to be for my staff that are going to be taking care of it and then they’re going to be the ones distributing,” James said. “It is not going to be people that we do not know.”

It will take roughly a month for the van to arrive. In the meantime, the organization is sending money to staff members in Haiti, to help purchase and distribute food.

“The goal is to try to serve as many people as possible with minimal means we might have, because I don’t necessarily believe you need to wait until you have millions to help,” he said, adding that in a country like Haiti, “very little can do a lot.”

To learn more about the Hope for Haiti Drive, you can email 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 money to help rebuild 300 houses and support businesses in Haiti. The organizations are planning a humanitarian trip to the country to help with rebuilding efforts and offer mental health support.

“Other programs we will bring to the ground are mental health and support groups for grieving families, monetary support to families with school-age children, medical and health care,” the organizations wrote on their fundraising page.

Haitian Tabernacle Of Philadelphia

The Philadelphia-based Haitian group is collecting donations for earthquake victims.

Deacon Gilbert Ovide, through his education nonprofit, GOIFHE, is collecting donations and sending care packages to Bethel School of Solon in Cayes. GOIFHE partners with local education nonprofits, schools and hospitals.

Crayons For Haiti, Inc.

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

For more information, email

Non–Haitian-led organization

Mennonite Central Committee

Based in Ephrata, the Mennonite Central Committee has been serving Haiti for more than 60 years.

The Mennonite Central Committee has a warehouse in Port-au-Prince where it keeps a variety of relief kits with hygiene supplies, comforters and infant care products. The organization sent a container of supplies to Haiti three days before the earthquake and is assessing whether to send another one.

Tom Wenger, material resources coordinator for the organization, says it has been a challenge to reach the most impacted regions of the country due to road closures.

“Access continues to be difficult,” Wenger said. “Transportation and communication are difficult in the severely affected area. For example, the main road south from Port-au-Prince to that area has been shut down.”

The global nonprofit is not Haitian-led. However, it has 11 staff members on the ground– 8 from Haiti,  2 from Canada and 1 from the U.S. The staff provides support to 8 local humanitarian groups in different regions of Haiti, including Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn ( Solidarity for Haitian Women)  and Association des Volontaires pour la Reforme et le Développement de Saint-Jean du Sud (Association of Volunteers for the Reform and Development of St. Jean du Sud) in the south of Haiti.

Gabriela Martínez is part of the “Report for America” program — a national service effort that places journalists in newsrooms across the country to report on under-covered topics and communities.

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