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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wyclef Jean Talks To Oprah About His Charity

Yesterday, Wyclef Jean was on The Oprah Show to give his eyewitness account of how things are going in Haiti. He called the situation apocalyptic and shared the devastating news that the school he founded had been destroyed in the earthquake with everyone – students and teachers- killed.

During the interview, Oprah gave him the opportunity to address the concerns that have been raised about his charity, the Yele Haiti Foundation. He admitted that they’ve made some missteps in handling their financial reporting, but was adamant that he hadn’t personally profited in any way shape or form from his work with the group. Oprah spoke about her three foundations (including the highly-rated Oprah's Angel Network) and she acknowledges how important it is to have the best people running the back office so that she can be the face of the charity. She even said that the IRS practically lives at her office. In other words, her celebrity is a double edge sword bringing more awareness to her charitable pursuits, but also more scrutiny.
Personally, I think this is exactly what is needed with Wyclef Jean’s nonprofit. Millions of dollars have poured into his foundation. And Friday’s telethon will direct millions more to Yele Haiti. If you spent just a few minutes watching his interview, then I don’t see how you can dispute that he’s passionate about helping Haiti and that his intentions are honorable. But, again, his group doesn’t have experience dealing with a disaster on this scale. He even pointed out that the situation is a logistical nightmare! So, it is critical, in the months and years to come, for the media and donors to keep an eye on Yele Haiti’s progress and that Wyclef Jean and his staff be extremely transparent and forthcoming about the accomplishments and shortfalls of this charity.

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1 comment:

lucy beckett 1935 said...

cradayI was first introduced to Yele through a '60 Minutes' segment in 2009. I'd heard of Wyclef Jean and found him to be a most likable man. His obvious love and concern for his homeland touched me deeply. His rapport with the people and their enthusiastic greetings wherever he went was clearly evident. I've been saddened to read of the cloud that hangs over the financial dealings of Yele and of him personally. He's been quite forthcoming about this situation and I believe he will do whatever it takes to correct the problems. Good job, Charity Navigator, with this objective assessment.