The Power of Community: Ritha & Kendy’s Story

Ritha Marcellus and Love Kendy Pierre arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, in November 2023 from their Haitian homeland, where turmoil and gang violence have caused a humanitarian crisis. While Haiti has experienced instability for many years, it has not had a president or a functioning government since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

In response to this crisis, President Biden included Haiti in his well-known 2022 Humanitarian Parole Program (CHNV) to allow Haitians (along with Cubans, Nicuraguans and Venezuelans) to come to the U.S. for a period of two years, if they have a sponsor and pass a background check.

Locally, their immigration journey was made possible through the mission work of the Church of the Saviour United Methodist Church in Cleveland Heights — an AMIS-supporting Partner in Faith organization. Through the collective power of Cleveland’s formal and informal immigrant support network, Ritha and Kendy have quickly laid the groundwork for a new life in America. The AMIS Housing Fund provides Kendy and Ritha stable, long-term, temporary housing with our local partners at Nehemiah Mission. AMIS also provides a small monthly stipend to help with expenses until they begin working.

Another local partner, the U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), played a crucial role in helping Kendy and Ritha obtain work permits, and the couple immediately found roles as room attendants at a downtown Cleveland hote. They are very happy to be working and plan to move into their own apartment in the near future.

Despite the challenges of starting over in a new country and adjusting to life in America, Kendy and Ritha are optimistic about the future. They have completed asylum applications for permanent residency, and Kendy, whose English is good, aspires to further his education and eventually pursue a degree in Business Administration. Ritha is enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) class and hopes to go into nursing.

Like many of the immigrant families supported by AMIS, Kendy and Ritha’s journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community. We look forward to staying connected as they rebuild their lives in Northeast Ohio, and we hope their story is a reminder of the richness that diversity brings to our communities.

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