Today, much of Port-au-Prince looks like it did before the quake. Most of the tent camps in the city itself are gone, and streets are loaded with overcrowded buses and women selling vegetables.
From the start, the org has been on the raised eyebrow radar. Now some shadiness is coming out.
The charity is at the center of a recently filed lawsuit filed by a consulting firm that never got paid.
HVC Global Hospitality Services provided job training for 120 students in May 2011 and accused Wyclef’s folk of walking out on the remaining $108,972 bill.
According to the suit filed in a Manhattan Supreme Court, Yéle agreed to pay $285,000 for a six-month hospitality training and education program in Haiti.
The agreement explained that the foundation was to make installments to HVC throughout the course of the program. But the schedule was not kept.
The consulting company is suing for the amount owed plus interest and attorney fees.
Yéle has been in the spotlight since the singer was pinpointed for receiving huge payouts. After seven years and raising $16 million, the foundation closed in 2012.
*The African Film Festival is currently city hopping in New York, displaying some of the most remarkable movies and short films related to the African diaspora.
“Stones in the Sun,” a film by Haitian-American filmmaker Patricia Benoit, captures the essence of a reality not frequently shared on camera.
Inspired by her own family’s exile from Haiti, Benoit’s film takes place in the 1980s, revisiting the country during a nationwide uprising against then President (or dictator) Jean-Claude Duvalier. Known for his brutal militaristic tactics, under his authority, many Haitians were killed, tortured and fled the country looking for a safe-haven.
Three Haitian families all dealing with the same reality in various ways flee the country to land in New York, where they attempt to pick up the pieces.
While all three had varying experiences, from rape and murder, to displacement and shame, they all unite on the same issue and that’s struggle.
During Q&A, Benoit regarded the film as another side of the Haitian story.
“One thing that irritates me is that when people talk about Haiti, they talk about the resistance,” she said. “But people forget that there is damage. There is damage and in order to survive, people hide the wounds and they push them down.”
Indeed her point was well taken. Each of the characters dealing with their connection to the suffering was haunted by the past, by the demons that crumbled their worlds.
In the film, sisters “Yannick” and “Micheline,” though raised in the same era, in the same household in Haiti, are worlds apart. Yannick, educated and given opportunity, stays in Haiti as a teacher to empower youth and enliven revolution. She witnesses a murder and flees to America to stay with her sister who has become the all-American woman, living in the suburbs in a nice house with the proverbial white picket fence.
Unable to cope with the reality of her homeland, the suffering of others and her horrific past, Micheline clashes with her sister who begins to rock her perfect world.
“Gerald” the son of an infamous military oppressor builds a new life in America, changes his name and fights over the airwaves with a revolutionary radio show, speaking of uprising and overthrowing the military. He marries a white woman, “Rebecca” who is completely unconscious of her husband’s internal battles. His father, deathly ill, escapes Haiti and comes to his doorstep. “Gerald” is forced to somehow reconcile his past with his present while continue to stand firm on his beliefs.
Check out the full story here.
Check out the trailer for “Stones in the Sun”:
*Wyclef Jean’s Haiti charity is to close following allegations of financial mismanagement.
The Fugees star co-founded Yele Haiti in 2004 to assist in the wake of Hurricane Jeanne, which devastated his native island. The organization was also involved in aid efforts following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
However, the charity was investigated by the New York attorney general and reportedly went out of business last month, according to the New York Times.
The report alleges that a forensic audit of the organization from 2005-2009 found mismanagement of expenses including $24,000, which was spent on chauffeur services for Jean, and $30,000 on a private jet to fly actress Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to Chicago for a benefit event that raised $66,000.
A statement from Jean’s attorney Avi Schick, posted on Jean’s Facebook.com page, reads: “Wyclef Jean helped pay for the independent audit of Yele because of his commitment to both the organization and the people of Haiti, and while most of its findings do not in any way relate to him he is nevertheless committed to ensuring that things are made right.”
Jean’s spokesperson Melanie A. Bonvicino adds: “At present my client Wyclef Jean and his legal team are working assiduously to resolve any pending issues with respect to Yele prior to its closing, as Mr. Jean continues his tireless commitment to his ‘beloved’ country by remaining steadfast in his efforts to encourage the global community to join him in supporting ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.”
In that piece our focus was on getting the entire Lauryn Hill story out in the open as the section that deals with the Fugees break up is the most talked about chapter of his new book “Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story” thus far.
In this installment I talk to Wyclef about his would be presidential campaign in Haiti, how that dream fell apart and what’s next up on his plate.
“That circumstance is probably one of the toughest times in my life because this is actually I place that I come from,” said Jean of being denied the right to run for president. “A place where I was raised, a place that helped build my character. To basically go from that to the reality of them saying ‘You basically can keep singing and keep dancing, keep producing the records and making peoples hips shake around. But when it comes to this policy and legislation we don’t want you dealing with that. It was probably one of the top three challenges in my life. But what really helped get me through was realizing that the suffering you go through has to be based on those that came before you. When I look at the story of Martin, when I look at the story of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks…then I have to ask myself. ‘What is it that you’re really going through that you can’t handle?’ Because nobody’s coming into your house burning crosses, dragging your Dad out of the house, and getting a noose and throwing it over a tree limb. This is what made me keep my head up and work through the entire process.”
When Wyclef Jean initially announced his candidacy to become president of Haiti it seemed like the entire nation cheered in unison. Jean has been a long time activist and ambassador who has always showed demonstrated concern and love for the people of Haiti and their ongoing plight. Though he garnered mass support from his would be constituents Wyclef’s campaign was considered null and void by the Haitian parliment.
“I call it ‘The Law that was created for Wyclef Jean not to run’, that’s what they should call the law,” said Jean of the law that politicians cited to kill his campaign. “It’s really a law that doesn’t exist. At the time, I was an ambassador at large in Haiti with a 5 year passport in hand. So, how are you going to tell a diplomat with an ambassador’s passport that he has to reside in the country for 5 years at a time when niether the president nor any of the members of parliment could say they resided in the country for 5 years? In my second book I explain how they tried to J. Edgar Hoover me, and I get into the political side of all of that.”
Dirty politics appears to be par for the the course in any election. Often times the policies of a political opponent simply aren’t enough for a would-be president to run against fair and square. People feel obligated to throw dirt in the game. But Clef told me his campaign didn’t even get that far.
“I didn’t even get a chance to unfold my policies. The threat was, once I landed on the ground, I had 12 million people behind me. The entire country. At the same time it’s ‘Who is this guy? Isn’t he a musician from the group called Fugees? Refugees? I refugee from
Guantanamo Bay, which is next to Cuba, which is next to Venezuela? What are his policies? We know he’s a friend of ours but is this a guy we can hand a country over to? We’ve just had an earthquake where 250,000 people died. Now we have a lot of corporate interests coming into the country, kind of like how we did in Iraq and other places. Is this our guy? Is this our man?’ I guess I didn’t match the ‘is he our man’ test.”
And what of any further political ventures?
“I plan to help my country for as long as I’m breathing, but I do not foresee the idea of running for president again right now,” said Jean. “Basically, I’m back in the states focusing on a new company I have with my brother called ‘All Hands on Deck.’ But what I will do about Haiti before I stop breathing, is to see if maybe I can put up an entire school down there. The right way.”
In past interviews with celebrities of Haitian descent I have been told some politicians and past presidents of the Carribbean nation have not been very accommodating to business growth. Clef tells me that the man he back for president is trying to swiftly turn that perception around.
“My president, Michel Martelly, says that Haiti is open for business and they’re open to people who want to come down and visit and open to people who want to come down and start businesses. They’re working on that legislation right now. You can set up shop 90 days to 120 days (tax free). This is something that did not exist before. Currently, the new government that is in place right now is pro business, which is a great thing.”
“One of the things that would help is the U.S. has a mandate that states ‘Go to Haiti at your own risk’.” said Jean. “So, it’s still considered one of the most dangerous spots in the world. I think them raising that mandate would definitely go a long way towards helping back tourism.”
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Jean regarding his book “Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story” and fans of Clef’s can look forward to more music and other literary works as well. His book is on newstands now.
Now, all grown up, gorgeous and famous, Garcelle Beauvais shares her journey from the small country to Hollywood in an exclusive talk with BET.com.
“Coming from Haiti, growing up the way I did, I’m doing things now I never dreamt I would be able to do,” she said. “Being on television was out of the question. I didn’t know you could do that for a living! My siblings, who used to tease me all the time, look at me now and say, ‘Okay, I didn’t know it would turn out like this!’ So that’s fun.”
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Living her dream the actress takes on a role in TV Land’s “The Exes,” as Donald Faison’s love interest. He’s the typical womanizer, but finally meets his match when he meets Garcelle.
Speaking of exes, she said she has one regret about her very public relationship with ex-husband and talent agent Mike Nilon.
“My only regret about that is that it was leaked to the press,” she said. “That wasn’t the intention. It was a time I was really hurt and emotional and shocked, so it was coming from that place. But now I’m a different woman. And I’m actually grateful for all the experiences I’ve had in my life. It’s part of my journey.”
Read/learn more at BET.com.