According to UN and Haitian government estimates, more than 200,000 people lost their lives in the January 12, 2010, earthquake that struck Haiti. The death toll is the highest for a natural disaster since the Asian tsunami in 2004 and the third greatest in any earthquake over the past 30 years. Hundreds of thousands were injured, displaced and left homeless.

Survivors face numerous human rights and humanitarian priorities: medical care; nutritious food and clean water; and adequate shelter and housing to name only a few. The capital, Port-au-Prince, needs rebuilding, while thousands prepare to face the rainy and hurricane seasons in tents or flimsy shelters. Many children are now orphaned and are at risk of malnutrition, trafficking or other abuses unless protection is provided by the government and the international community. Long-term, the Haitian people must be full participants in the process of making human rights a reality and in building a sustainable, transformed political economy.   

How You Can Help

There are many ways that law students, lawyers, and other individuals and groups to help. The Northeastern Law School community has already begun by raising money, donating cash and pro bono legal services, and creating communication and resource networks. Below, the Program on Human Rights for the Global Economy lists some background resources as well as ways to support the people of Haiti.

Volunteer Attorneys/Paralegals Wanted For Immigration Clinics (Boston Area)
As of January 18, 2010, some Haitian nationals who are in the US have become eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS provides legal status and work authorization for the next 18 months. Persons seeking such status should seek free legal advice before applying. Volunteer attorneys/Paralegals are needed to staff legal clinics assisting people in filling out the paperwork to apply for TPS. NUSL students, professors, and alumni are already volunteering, but more help is needed. If you are interested in volunteering, you can sign up here.

Volunteers Needed at the Haitian Support and Resource Center (Mattapan, MA) 
The City of Boston has set up a support center to assist local families affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti. Those interested in volunteering at the Haitian Support and Resource Center should contact the Boston Public Health Commission by emailing 

Legal Help For Haitians in the U.S.
As of January 18, 2010, Haitian nationals who are in the US have become eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Individuals may receive TPS for up to 18 months and during that time will be authorized to work and travel legally. The TPS application process will last until July 2010. The following legal organizations provide free legal assistance to obtain TPS:


Several legal organizations provide free legal assistance in Massachusetts.  For a complete list of organizations, as well locations and times, consult the following web sites:

Community-based Organizations in Greater Boston
Greater Boston has a strong and vibrant Haitian-American community. The following lists some community-based Haitian-American organizations in this region.

  • Association of Haitian Women in Boston (AFAB): The Association of Haitian Women in Boston is a community-based grassroots organization dedicated to empowering low-income Haitian women and their children. 330 Fuller Street, Dorchester, MA 02124. (617) 287-0096.
  • Haitian American Public Health Initiatives, Inc. (HAPHI): HAPHI is a minority run, non-profit agency dedicated to providing members of the Haitian-American community in Metro Boston with culturally and linguistically accessible information and services to improve their health and wellbeing. 10 Fairway Street, Mattapan, MA 02126. (617) 298-8076.
  • Haitian Americans United (HAU): The Haitian-Americans United, Inc. (H.A.U.) is a non-profit organization founded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to improve the quality of life for Haitians and Haitian-Americans through education, Community Empowerment and cultural development. 10 Fairway Street, #218, PO Box 260440, Mattapan, MA 02126. (617) 298-2976.
  • Haitian Artists Assembly (HAA): 200 Governor's Drive #31, Winthrop, MA 02152. (617) 846-5889.
  • Haitian Multi-Service Center/Catholic Charities: Established by local Haitian community leaders, the Haitian Multi-Service Center (HMSC) began in 1978 with a single service, English as a Second Language for recent Haitian immigrants. In 1984, the HMSC became a community service center of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston. 185 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA 02121. (617) 506-6600.
  • Haitian Health Outreach Project/Cambridge Health Alliance:The Haitian Health Outreach Program raises awareness about HIV/AIDS and STD prevention/education in a way that is consistent with the Haitian cultural values and linguistically appropriate for the different segments of the Haitian population. Services include interventions and meetings with community agencies and Haitian providers, and workshops for Haitian men, Haitian women and Haitians living with AIDS. 52 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 02142. (617) 498-2193.
State and Local Assistance

Selected NGOs Working on Haiti Issues
There are thousands of NGOs based in Haiti or that work on Haitian issues.  The following are a few of the more well-known organizations.

Disclaimer — References on this web page to services, products or organizations are for the information and convenience of the site's visitors and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by Northeastern University School of Law, the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy or Northeastern University.

Resources: About Haiti and Information on the Humanitarian Response

Opinions on Post-Earthquake Assistance and Recovery

Recent Books
  • Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004).
    Edwidge Danticat,
    Brother, I'm Dying (Random House, 2007)
  • Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: the Story of the Haitian Revolution (Belknap; Harvard University, 2005)
  • Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (University of California, 2003)
    Tracy Kidder,
    Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: the Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer (Random House, 2003)
  • Randall Robinson, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President (Basic Civitas, 2007)

General Information on Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance,