Billions of dollars later and almost one year to the date of the tragic earthquake that shattered the island nation of Haiti, Grammy Award-winning singer/musician Wyclef Jean is still raising money for Haiti. Tomorrow in New York City, Wyclef is set to perform at the “The Truth” a fundraiser being sponsored by Donna Karan’s organization Urban Zen Foundation.
The event boasts a who’s who of the arts and music industry including Andre Harrell, Forest and Kiki Whitaker, Spike Lee, Erykah Badu, David Arquette, Maria Bello, Gary Dourdan, Michael Stahl and Jimmy Jean-Louis. There’s also an online auction of artworks by Haitian artisans. As such, I’m sure the event will raise lots of cash but the real question is where will that money go? I, for one, am not giving one more red cent to these upscale, shi shi organizations who don’t know anything about Haiti’s infrastructure, its political climate, its people or even how to get the money to those who need it most in an expeditious manner. Billions of dollars have already been given in the name of Haiti yet millions remain living in tents, without proper nutrition, adequate medical attention, government identification or even basic everyday needs.
This event is being billed as a “premier reception, exhibition and auction for Hope, Help & Relief Haiti”. I’m sure the organization, its participants and its goals are well intended. However, as my father always told me “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The funds are supposed to give `Gifts of Love` packages to the Haitian people this holiday season and into the New Year. The packages will include vital supplies: shoes, solar flashlights and whistles to offset night attacks and rapes on women living in the Haitian camps. Cholera relief supplies will also be added as a critical component in these `Gifts of Love. I hope these funds are spent exactly as intended – EVERY RED CENT!!
We, especially in the Caribbean community, need to start asking to see the books of these organizations who raise money in the name of Haiti. At the very least, we need to ask how the money is being spent.
Alas, as a journalist I know that I should remain objective and open-minded. I should give this “Zen” organization the benefit of the doubt but unfortunately one year after Haiti’s earthquake too much remains the same and no one can explain how all this money is being spent so I have lost my objectivity and gained outrage.