Jean defends charity, calls for more help for Haiti

Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean is overcome with emotion while discussing his recent visit to earthquake-stricken Haiti and how is organization, Yele Haiti, is helping with relief efforts, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010, in New York. (Diane Bondareff)

January 18, 2010 6:24:55 PM PST
Not holding back tears and speaking in his native language, Wyclef Jean told the people of Haiti "I don't cry for myself. I cry for you. Give us time. We'll be back." The Grammy Award-winning artist and Humanitarian held a press conference Monday afternoon in Midtown to talk about his recent trip to Haiti.

"Cue cards can't explain what I've seen in the last three days," Jean said. "I was not reporting the news. I'm the one who was carrying the dead bodies on the street.

Next week, Wyclef's non-profit organization, Yele Haiti, plans to fly medical supplies and water to Port-au-Prince.

This Friday the Haitian-born artist will co-host the "Hope for Haiti" telethon with actor George Clooney.

Forty celebrities are expected, including Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Sting, Christina Aguilera, and Bono.

The telethon comes as a growing number of news organizations raise questions about whether some of the money raised for Wyclef's foundation was funneled into his private enterprises.

"Have we made mistakes. Yes. Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Never," he said.

Music Mogul Russell Simmons backs Jean and says he will continue to donate to Yele Haiti with confidence.

"He's done a lot with a little," Simmons said.

Jean has raised more than $2 million through his charity.

Jean is also calling for an evacuation of his homeland's earthquake-ravaged capital and asking for international aid to help set up tent cities nearby. The Grammy Award-winning artist said he envisions temporary settlements housing 100,000 people each outside Port-au-Prince.