Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Bad News for Haiti As Wyclef Jean's Charity Goes Bankrupt

Photo credit: Jorge Cruz/AP

More bad news arrived for the long-suffering people of Haiti after it was revealed that Hip Hop superstar Wyclef Jean's charitable organization to help the people of the island nation has crumbled beneath a mass of debt and alleged mismanagement.

The organization named  Yéle was originally founded by Jean, the former member of Grammy-Award winning Hip Hop group The Fugees, in 2003 as a way to help the people of his homeland. The organization did not receive much attention until after the devastating January 2010 earthquake that rocked the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, crippling the entire city and leaving an estimated 250,000 dead, with millions more left injured and/or homeless.

Jean claimed to have raised more than one million US dollars for the charity in only twenty-four hours after pleading for donations via his official Twitter and Facebook accounts following the horrific disaster. Now allegations have come to light that the charitable donations given to the organization were mismanaged, to the tune of almost $16 million US. 

In one alleged incident, it is claimed that money for the Yéle charity—a reported $30,000—was used to fly troubled actress Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a charity-raising event in Chicago. The event only raised some $66,000. Another claim is that Jean brought actor Matt Damon and a host of his other celebrity friends to Haiti via private jet at a cost of almost $70,000. 

Jean—who made an unsuccessful bid for the Haitian presidency in 2010—has remained tight-lipped about the closing of the charity as well as the allegations. He directed followers on his official Twitter feed to read his statement posted to his Facebook account.

All of this is indeed sad news for the people of Haiti, who continue to suffer in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake as well as the effects of hurricanes, tropical storms and outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera. Some 300,000 people still reside in what was initially designed as "temporary" housing on the outskirts of the city, tens of thousands of tents that have since been battered by the elements. Electricity and potable running water are extremely scarce. 

Although not as grandiose, a percentage of the sales from my book Evangeline, Alive & Well: A Story of Hope in Haiti have been earmarked to help the people of the country, in whatever small way possible. The book is also available for Kindle readers here:

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