Hip Hop Humanitarian Wyclef Jean Launches "Together For Haiti"

Hip-hop icon Wyclef Jean launched a new initiative to help his native Haiti on Tuesday in response to last month’s deadly food riots.

“Together For Haiti” is a collaborative effort of the World Food Programme, the Pan American Development Foundation and Yele Haiti, Wyclef’s charitable foundation.

“We are not only interested in feeding people in response to the current crisis, but we want to offer them an alternative that can help them in a sustainable way”, said Jean at the Manhattan press conference where he was flanked by musician Paul Simon, model/activist Petra Nemcova, and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs.

The initiative hopes to raise $48 million in six months to create 1, 800 jobs, distribute food to 1.5 million people and provide fertilizers to 55,000 farmers. It also intends to offer 9,000 micro-enterprise grants to families so that they can start their own small businesses. At launch time, the charity claims to have already secured $1.5 million in contributions.
Haiti is reportedly the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where 90% of its 8 million people earn less than $1 per day, unemployment is close to 80% and more than half the population is under 21 years of age. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, the majority of Haitians consume a paltry 460 calories per day (the recommended amount is at least 2,100 calories daily). Soaring food prices in Haiti ignited riots in April, leaving six people dead and 200 injured. As a result, Prime minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis was also ousted.

Since his entry into the music business in 1994, Wyclef has been raising awareness about his impoverished homeland. His activism not only led to the launch of his own successful foundation, Yele Haiti, but to an appointment by Haitian President Rene Preval to serve as an ambassador to improve the nation’s image abroad.

For more information on “Together for Haiti” or to donate go to: http://www.togetherforhaiti.org/.

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