There is an estimated 100,000 African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees living in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, representing a variety of nations, cultures, languages and religions. Eight percent of Philadelphia’s foreign born come from Africa. There are immigrants from almost every African and Caribbean country in Philadelphia, though the largest communities are from Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Mali, Ghana and Haiti.
For more than 300 years, Philadelphia has been home to people of African origin – from African slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries to waves of the “Great Migration” from the southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After the Haitian Revolution in 1791, refugees arrived from Saint Domingue, now Port-au-Prince. In recent years, Philadelphia has come full circle and is once again playing host to a new population arriving directly from the continent of Africa and the Caribbean.
African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees come to Philadelphia for many reasons varying from fleeing persecution, civil unrest, war, famine, genocide or other strife in their home countries. Others come seeking economic and educational opportunities. As these new waves of arrivals search for a foothold in their new homes, they encounter major barriers in accessing basic services including healthcare, social services, education and employment. The African Family Health Organization meets these community members where they are and assists, serves and empowers them to become healthy and self-sufficient.