It was just six months ago that the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake struck Haiti and five-year-old NGO Yéle Haiti moved the work of repairing and restoring the nation from that disaster to the top of its agenda.
Wyclef Jean, founder of Yéle Haiti, in a series of national opinion pieces coinciding with the anniversary, is making strong calls to action to those who can help as the conditions in Haiti worsen. Jean is asking the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to release $150 million of pledged funds in the next 90 days to carry out coherent public safety and security plans addressing current violence, kidnappings, abductions, rapes and sexual abuse rampant in the most vulnerable communities. He is also asking the commission to release an additional $150 million for rubble removal.
“I’m a warrior and can’t stand by quietly while promises aren’t kept. I won’t ever surrender,” said Jean. “We’ve seen the situation, and we’ve been listening to others on the ground. It’s still bleak. Rubble and collapsed buildings are everywhere.” Also, in the next 120 days Jean would like to see the commission’s leaders, the United Nations and former Presidents Bush and Clinton commit themselves to collecting the billions of dollars pledged by the international community to the Haitian relief effort, making sure those promises are converted into actual cash, to ensure Haiti’s infrastructure is rebuilt and the country is on track for a new destiny.
Yéle Haiti is working on long-term goals that will require hands-on effort for years to come. The organization’s initiatives, such as sustainable housing, schools, health clinics and agricultural communities, are well under way and will allow Haitians to one day flourish independently. Yéle Haiti also continues to provide vital support to Haitians with daily supplies of water and food to communities hit the hardest by the earthquake. Working alongside community leaders in 34 tent camps across the country, Yéle Haiti understands the immediate needs of the people better than any other organization on the ground.
Since the earthquake, Yéle Haiti has distributed the following items among 34 tent camps and other communities across the country:
- 84,000 hot meals
- 14,400 items of canned and packaged food
- 2 million gallons of bulk water (Yéle will soon be expanding this service to 1 million gallons of water a month)
- 32,850 bottles of water
- 860 bottles of coconut water (donated by Zico)
- 270,310 nutrition bars (donated by Clif Bar and Nature’s Path)
- 360 cans of fish
- 14,300 pounds (approximately) of medical supplies, including bandages, medicines, painkillers and first aid kits
- More than 2,500 care bags with personal toiletries and assorted items
- 2,256 feminine products
- 2,472 diapers
- 120 tents (donated by churches throughout Georgia and New Jersey)
- 356 ShelterBox tents (donated by Urban Zen Foundation)
- 1,000 non-ShelterBox tents (donated by Urban Zen Foundation)
- 1 26′ × 30′ tent (donated by Structure Shelters)
- 873 tarp kits (donated by Habitat for Humanity)
- 30 mosquito nets
- 8,455 items of new and used clothing and more than 1,500 pairs of new and used shoes
- 1,000 pairs of new boots (donated by Timberland)
- 2,000 pairs of new shoes (donated by TOMS Shoes)
- 909 sheets, blankets and towels (approximately two-thirds of these were donated by the public in Miami)
- 1,240 windup flashlights (donated by Eton through the efforts of Timberland)
- 2,500 solar radios (donated by Eton through the efforts of Timberland)
Other new programs of Yéle Haiti include:
Yéle Haiti partnered with Timberland this year to launch a tree-planting program called Yéle Vert. The first 100,000 trees have been planted with the help of local farmers. (The country currently has less than 2 percent tree cover.) This month, the program will expand to six nurseries that will grow 1 million trees a year. Yéle and Timberland are also supplying farmers with seed, fertilizer, tools and training to improve their crop yields.
This program was created to help provide jobs to nearly 1,000 people each day for months to come. The program not only employs local people but also provides them with the vocational training they need for a better future. The Corps participate in clean-up projects throughout the country and serve on teams that distribute aid and materials provided by Yéle.
In addition to the distribution of tents and tarps mentioned above, Yéle Haiti completed construction of two model temporary 12-by-12 wood-frame houses, which can be seen at its headquarters in La Plaine. The organization is committed to building the first 100 units in the Croix-des-Bouquets area.
Yéle Haiti is building a medical clinic that will provide primary and multi-specialty health care, with a central triage process to quickly direct incoming patients according to need. The clinic will provide a family practice program, including pediatrics, gynecology/obstetrics (pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care) and infectious-disease care, along with minor surgery and physical therapy/rehabilitation. In addition, psychological counseling will be provided. Construction of the clinic began in April in two geodesic domes (each 44 feet in diameter) installed at Yéle headquarters in La Plaine.