Friday, January 22, 2010

"I Spent the Day Picking Up Dead Bodies"

Wyclef Jean: "I Spent the Day Picking Up Dead Bodies"
Sat., Jan. 16, 2010
Brandi Fowler

Wyclef Jean is working hard to help Haiti—and to defend himself.

The Haitian-born singer spent time in his homeland with his wife, pulling dead bodies from the rubble of the earthquake-ravaged country.

"We've been picking up dead bodies because the morgues ain't taking no more bodies," Jean said Saturday after arriving back from Haiti, where casualties estimates could climb as high as 100,000. "We're literally picking them up...some are identified with tags, putting them in the trucks and bringing them to the cemeteries. The whole Port-au-Prince is starting to smell like dead bodies, because every two blocks that's what you have."

The 37-year-old Grammy winner said what disturbed him the most was that under the rubble he could hear voices of people saying "save me."

The devastating conditions in the Caribbean nation have impeded efforts to get equipment inside that could lift the large concrete slabs trapping untold numbers of victims underneath. To make matters worse, the former Fugee said, many Haitians are still waiting for life-saving supplies.

"Aid is finally coming in, but it still isn't getting to the people," said Jean, who has also found himself standing up for his under-fire charitable efforts.

Critics have accused his Yéle Haiti Foundation of squandering funds, with some even suggesting Jean might be skimming off the top. The organization launched a campaign in the wake of the disaster, encouraging people to donate $5 to relief efforts by texting "YELE" to 501501.

Jean issued a video statement Saturday on the organization's website regarding those accusations.

"My commitment to Haiti is a unique and everlasting bond," he said. "It is impossible for me to even comprehend the recent attacks on my character and the integrity of my foundation, Yéle Haiti. The fact that these attacks come as we are mobilized to meet the greatest human tragedy in the history of Haiti only serves to perplex me even further."

He says Yéle will be shipping food, water and medical supplies to Haiti next week. He has also kicked in $1 million of his own money to aid his countrymen.

Jean managed to get back to Haiti only 12 hours after the earthquake struck, and has been in and out of the country. He met with George Clooney on Friday to discuss next week's telethon.

No comments: