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Hope For Haiti (Wyclef Jean, NY
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Posted by:Feb 13th 2006, 04:40:46 pm
Fig Tree News TeamA worthwhile read, as what's good for Haiti very much impacts the Bahamas and the entire Caribbean region:

FTNT (fig tree news team)

A fantastic Op-Ed by Wyclef Jean ran in the NY Daily News today. It is a beautiful story, in Wyclef's words, about his hope for Haiti. In the print version, it ran with two photos of him, one of him playing his guitar and one of him voting in last Tuesday's elections. If you are in NY, pick up a copy of the NY Daily News!

My hope for Haiti
Grammy-winning rapper Wyclef Jean looks to his country's future after historic elections


In 1804, Haiti was the first black republic in the world to achieve its
independence from slavery. Napoleon's army was occupying Haiti, but the
Haitians wanted their independence and so we defeated the French. I write
to you in the spirit of the fearless leaders: Jean-Jacques Dessalines,
Toussaint Louverture, a very special woman who knitted the Haitian flag
named Catherine Flon and all of my Haitian people who were part of the

I was born in Croix-des-Bouquets in a small town called Laserre. I came to
America at the age of 9, and my dream was to take the American Dream back
to Haiti and give the children their own dreams.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has an 80%
unemployment rate. Sixty-five percent of the country does not have
electricity. The maternal mortality rate is 680 per 100,000 live births.
In the U.S., it is 17. Mothers die because they cannot pay the $2.50 it
takes to see a doctor. Most of the country lives on less than $1 per day;
that's an average income of less than $400 per year. More than 60% of the
country cannot read or write because a free education is almost
nonexistent, and most people cannot afford the $60 it takes to send their
child to school. The HIV/AIDs rate is the highest in the Western
Hemisphere, on a par with rates in Africa.

Each of these statistics is shocking. Together, they are appalling. But
there's more to it than statistics. Haiti came close to becoming a failed
state in the past few months; at least that's what everybody thought was
going to happen. But the Haitian citizens proved them wrong when 70% of
eligible voters turned out for the election on Tuesday.

Why did they come out to vote recently in such numbers when most Haitians
live in miserable conditions that are not of their own making? I think it
is because the soul of the nation is finally speaking through its people,
a soul that has been suppressed and tortured as successive waves of
domestic and international politics washed away hope. But sometimes you
have to hit rock bottom before you can start rebuilding. And out of this
state can come the inspiration for change. There's very little innovation
in Haiti right now, so I started my foundation, Yele Haiti. We are not a
charity, we are a movement. Many have joined us in this movement through
food distribution, scholarships, athletics, hip-hop competitions and even
cleaning up the garbage in the streets of Port-au-Prince. There's charity,
and then there's change. Music is the new model for development.

I am from the same poor background that still exists in Haiti today. I
used to have one pair of pants, one shirt and no shoes, and often did not
know where my next meal was coming from. I was the child who ate the red
dirt from the ground in Haiti when there was no food. But I was born with
what is called "the Haitian pride," and this pride has led me to becoming
the Haitian man that you all know today as Wyclef Jean.

I take no credit for my success, for there are many Wyclef Jeans roaming
in the streets of Haiti. So I say to you, Haiti doesn't need charity; we need the rest of the world to help us make a change.

Contact us online at