haitian asylum seekers
Staying with host families nationwide, often Haitian-Americans, thousands of Haitian asylum seekers are settling into a new life in the U.S. Illustration by Leonardo March

Vkatrine and her two young children have lived in three different homes since requesting asylum in the United States last month. But recently, she has found refuge in the East Orange, New Jersey, household of the Noelsaint family.

Gerda Noelsaint, a mother-of-two herself, had plenty of space in the seven-bedroom Victorian home she shares with her husband Joseph and two family friends. When she heard that Vkatrine and her family needed shelter and care after spending time at the encampment in Del Rio, Texas, Noelsaint felt moved to help.

“My daughter asked me if I have a space to take her, because she doesn't have a place to go,” said Noelsaint, 73, a retired nurse. “When she told me [she] slept on the floor, and it was cold and the kids got sick, that hurt me so much.” 

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Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.