Hugh Sontag, former President and co-founder of Yele Haiti responds thoroughly and completely to the recent New York Times article about Yele Haiti and its co-founder Wyclef.
Sontag. who stepped down from Yele in 2011, refers to the NYT article In Haiti Nothing Can be Found of a Hip Hop Artist’s Charity as a “freestyle mix of fact and fiction” . He admits there were some mistakes made by Yele but he painstakingly addresses each and every accusation made by the NYT author Deborah Sontag. He point-by-point detracts from the myths which portray Yele Haiti as a money grubbing organization which had no qualitative impact on Haiti. For example:
NYT CLAIM: Yéle spent $230,000 renovating a plaza in the Cité Soleil slum with no lasting results.
THE TRUTH: Yéle supported a tent camp with 10,000 residents on a plaza in Cité Soleil
Yéle spent the money to support a tent camp with more than 10,000 residents that was located on the plaza in question. Not quite the same as Ms. Sontag’s implication that this was a parks and recreation initiative which, if true, would have been a ludicrous project in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
Click here to read entire response. I am glad that Mr. Sontag wrote this response because literally billions of dollars were raised in the name of Haiti and precious few of those dollars reached its intended recipients but for some reason, mainstream media only sees Wyclef Jean as the main villain.
According to Robert Falton Jr., University of Virginia professor,
“If you read the reports, you’ll see that actual Haitians got less than 1 percent of all the American money pledged.”
Despite the knowledge that very little of the funds raised for Haiti actually reaches those in the most need, Wyclef and his now defunct Yele Haiti has taken a lot of the media criticism. In my opinion, its simple, its an issue of racism. This is the pink elephant in the room that I am not afraid to mention. For I can find no other reason, that of all the Haiti charities out there that the New York Times could have chosen to write about, they chose Wyclef’s organization!
Case in point, the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross raised almost half a billion dollars in the name of Haiti relief but, according to the Chicago Tribune, as of January, 2012 only about half of it had been spent on Haiti. Even worse, according to Philanthropy.com much of the funds raised were pledged to other non-profits! Specifically, $171 million has been committed to other nonprofits, essentially, making the American Red Cross “grant maker” of Haiti relief funds.
A documentary by independent filmmaker Michele Mitchell “Haiti Where Did the Money Go” highlighted the fact that very little had changed in Haiti even two years after the earthquake. The documented spoke of the lack of disclosure present at many NGOs and the Red Cross took offense. The American Red Cross didn’t like the documentary’s “implications of ineffectiveness and allegations of a lack of transparency.”
The truth is, that almost $15 billion was raised for Haiti relief efforts, Yele represents less than 1% of that figure at $16 million If anyone wants to highlight mismanagement of Haiti relief funds, Yele Haiti is probably the last place we need to look. I’m just sayn!