Wyclef Jean has teamed with the UN and Haitian hip-hop artists to deliver food to the poorest of the poor in his homeland of Haiti.
Jean's Yéle Haiti, founded after the destruction of tropical storm Jeanne in 2004, has launched the venture in conjunction with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in an effort to relieve the devastating poverty in two of Haiti's poorest neighborhoods, Cité Soleil and Bel Air where women and children eat mud pies to survive.
Large scale food distributions had been cut drastically and even stopped last year because of high level of violence in the two areas. By taking it to the hip-hop grassroots level, Jean is succeeding in getting the supplies directly to the people who need it most.
“Children fear not the storm," said Jean, "because after the storm, it gets calm, and that’s when the sun comes out. Yéle Haiti."
The areas suffer from what is being called an unprecedented level of poverty stemming from almost total unemployment, lack of services and
In June of this year, Yéle Haiti first organized local hip-hop musicians to distribute rice, beans and vegetable oil straight to the homes of the two towns' residents.
Since then, WFP has agreed to provide food for continued distributions in these two areas.
Yéle Haiti and WFP carry out food distributions twice a month, feeding approximately 2,700 people per day with an increase expected soon. The musicians distribute the food mainly to women who are the traditional heads of families in Haiti. Beneficiaries are chosen by local community centers.
Haiti itself ranks as one of the world's most disadvantaged countries at 153 out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index (2005). Chronic malnutrition affects 42 percent of children under five, and, along with another easily preventable condition, diarrhea, kills 28 percent and 20 percent of children under five years old, respectively.
“Working with Yéle Haiti has allowed us to reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti, namely the women and children of Cite Soleil and Bel Air. We are therefore very happy about this new cooperation,” says WFP Haiti Country Director, Mamadou Mbaye.
More information on Yéle Haiti can be found at www.yele.org