Wyclef Jean Speaks on Haiti Earthquake One Year Later

The musician says he remains dedicated to helping his country.

Posted: 01/12/2011 10:50 AM EST
Filed Under Wyclef Jean, Haiti

Wyclef Jean was on the ground in Haiti only hours after the devastating 7.0 earthquake ravaged his native land in January 2010. Since then, he’s been active in trying to bring relief to his country, from physically helping to remove dead bodies from the rubble, to raising money through his Yele Haiti foundation. One year after the tragedy, Clef called into New York’s Power 105 radio station to detail the state of post-earthquake Haiti.

“As far as what’s being done, it’s a year and there’s still 1.2 million people living in tents,” Clef told 105’s “Breakfast Club Morning Show” on his way to church. “The progress of what’s supposed to happen is moving within turtle formation and we think that the international community, America and all the powers that be and all of the money that was collected and the billion-dollar funding sitting in D.C., we need to start allocating some of these funds so we all can get to work.”

In the midst of his relief work, Jean anounced his candidacy for president in Haiti to mixed reactions. Surprisingly, one of his detractors was his cousin and former Fugee band mate, Pras. Clef said he bumped into Pras on a plane to Haiti and the two made peace.

“I always say whenever there’s a Fugee argument, everyone should really stay out of it,” Clef explained. “It’s like at the end of the day if me, Pras and Lauryn [are] in one place, the argument will be more with the fans than with us. So when I see Pras, it’s still like seeing my little brother from Newark. So when I saw him on the plane, I said, ‘Listen, I don’t know if I should give you an elbow, shoot you, or kiss you.’”

Pras wasn’t alone in his criticism of Clef. As the world came together in an unprecedented show of support and donated millions to foundations like the Red Cross, Unicef and Clef’s own Yele Haiti, Jean came under fire for allegedly misusing his organization’s funds. 

“What I knew is a year later the proof would be in the pudding,” said Clef, whose organization raised about $1.4 million. “Right now, for everybody that was going hard on Yele, I encourage you to go up on the site and you will see that we’re perhaps one of the only foundations at this time that can show you proof of where your money went and the transparency.”

While the country continues to struggle with a cholera outbreak that hit late last year, in New York another controversy brewed. In December, Hot 97 radio personality Cipha Sounds joked that he doesn’t have AIDS because he doesn’t date Haitian women. The comment caused an uproar, prompted groups to demand the jockey’s termination and led to his indefinite suspension. Clef weighed in on the matter.

“My thoughts about that, I’m heavily on the ground, that’s my work,” he offered. “But at the end of the day, my mom is a Haitian woman, you know, but I encourage in the future that comments like that within anybody, you have to be careful. The idea of stigma and AIDS is a serious one.”
 
 
 

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