Singer and producer Wyclef Jean is working with his foundation to deliver cooked meals, water and medical assistance to survivors of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
At a gathering in Harlem yesterday attended by prominent New York black clergy, including the Rev Al Sharpton, Jean spoke about his recent trip to Haiti and relief efforts by his Yele Haiti Foundation. At the same time, he urged President Barack Obama to make a “sustainable commitment” to rebuild the island nation during his State of the Union address last night.
Speaking passionately and sometimes in metaphor, Jean said any aid to the country needs to include not only the tools but also the knowledge for Haitians to be able to rebuild their country for the 21st century.
“I need you all to bring the rod. I need you all to bring the boat. I need you all to bring the people that’s going to teach them how to get on that boat, how to take that boat out to sea, how to fish and how to bring that fish back for their family,” the 37-year-old Grammy-award winning artiste said.
The powerful earthquake on January 12 killed an estimated 200,000 people, displacing thousands and turning much of the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince into rubble. The monumental task of rebuilding has only just begun, and some, including Jean and members of the black clergy, have called for a project for Haiti modelled after the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe after World War II.
Jean said he travelled to Haiti the day after an all-star telethon on January 22, during which organisers have said they raised $66 million.
On this, his most recent trip to the country he left when he was 9 years old, he said there were “not as much bodies on the floor” as before, but that the “smell” of decomposing bodies under rubble was strong.