New handbook available to aid Haitian immigrants

Posted: January 10, 2011

Starting a new life in a new country can be daunting for any immigrant. Add to that the trauma of escaping a life rocked by an earthquake and you have someone who needs as much help as he or she can get.

To help ease the transition, the Welcoming Center for New Philadelphians, an advocacy group that helps new immigrants with various opportunities, has released a guide for recent Haitian-earthquake victims who have come to Philadelphia looking for an easier life.

The handbook, Haitian Immigrant Resource Guide, is specifically designed to serve those who continue to arrive in the city and surrounding areas a year after the devastating quake struck the island nation Jan. 12, 2010.

The handbook is available in English, but next month a Haitian Creole edition also will be issued.

It provides tips on housing, education, health care, English-language classes and legal assistance.

Many Haitians have arrived in Philadelphia with no support system, said Desiree Wayne, who oversees the Welcoming Center's Haitian Community Project.

"Some people who arrived on military flights or came for medical care after the earthquake didn't have an established family member in the area," she said in a statement.

Over the years, Philadelphia has become a destination for many Haitians, immigrant advocates say. The region has one of the largest Haitian populations in the U.S., with about 11,000 (not including second-generation Haitian-Americans). Since the earthquake, hundreds have continued to seek medical aid and refuge.

To get a copy of the handbook, call 215-557-2626. To download it online, go to


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