On December 9, the recording artist Wyclef Jean launched Yéle Haiti, a humanitarian relief effort aimed at the economic and political problems faced by his native Caribbean nation that has been rocked by a wave of violence and instability following the ouster of former President Jean Paul Aristide. Jean’s multi-million dollar charity movement will focus on education, entrepreneurship, community development, health care and the environment, with immediate attention placed on building schools in slum areas, supporting youth outreach on HIV/AIDS and providing micro-loans to poor and low-income people.
On Thursday night, an all-star cast of celebrities and entertainers kicked off the venture at the Chelsea nightclub, GLO, during which participants were encouraged to donate their money, ideas and efforts to Yéle Haiti and encourage American lawmakers to help redress the endemic problems plaguing the world’s first black-led republic and the first Caribbean state to achieve independence. Annually, Haiti’s population of 8.4 million people struggles by on less than $380 per capita.
Wyclef Jean was born in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti in 1972. He came to the United States when he was 9 and his family settled in Brooklyn. He achieved fame after joining a rap group that later evolved into The Fugees, a Haitian slang term meaning refugees. Now, as well as being a solo performing artist, Jean is a political activist and organizer.