PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The immigration crisis is currently a hot topic across the country.
In Massachusetts, communities are hosting migrants in shelters and hotels, many of whom are Haitians.
On Friday, the nonprofit “New Bridges for Haitian Success” is celebrating 10 years of helping migrants in Rhode Island.
“I founded New Bridges for Haitian Success based on my own experiences as an immigrant,” Bernard Georges said.
If it were possible to build a physical bridge between Haiti and the United States, Georges said he would find a way to get it done — but it’s not.
Instead, he is building bridges spanning the gaps in resources available for Haitians arriving in Rhode Island.
“We help them, so we meet them where they are. In terms of, we have folks, they often arrive with nothing,” Georges said.
In 2021, Haitians told 12 News their stories, and how it took them eight years to traverse through South and Central America to get to the U.S.
“From Brazil to Bolivia, from Bolivia to Peru, from Peru to Ecuador,” Georges said.
Georges created the nonprofit in 2013 after experiencing firsthand how foreign the U.S. seemed to him after escaping Haiti when his family received death threats from the ruling regime.
“I struggled to make my way along. I put myself through college, and when I finished, I wanted to help people like me,” Georges explained.
Fast forward ten years and the nonprofit has gained the support of several state agencies — including the Department of Labor and Training — to help newly arriving Haitians get everything from temporary housing, adult education, food assistance and immigration legal support.
“I speak their language. I understand their culture. So I welcome them and make them feel comfortable that they can receive the proper treatment they deserve,” Georges said.
Georges told 12 News that just last year, New Bridges helped 2,000 Haitians and he anticipates that number to increase.
“They’re saying they’re close to 10,000 Haitians at the border,” he said. “We need real resources just to continue the work that we’re doing.”
At this time, New Bridges doesn’t have a central office, but Georges is hopeful that through community and state support they will once again have a physical safe haven for Haitians complete with a food pantry and classrooms.