If you’re thinking about donating money to Wyclef Jean’s organization, Yele Haiti, you might want to think twice.
In a press conference held yesterday, Jean defended his organization and claimed it had never been used for his own benefit. While Jean has be an inspirational leader and figure in garnering support for Haiti, his organization’s financial history doesn’t quite check out.
“As a young NGO, have we made mistakes?” Jean asked in an article by The Guardian. “Yes. Did I ever use Yele money for personal benefits? Absolutely not.”
Yele Haiti did not file tax returns in 2005, 2006 or 2007 and has made significant contributions to areas where Jean has commercial interest of about $400,000.
Despite the suspicious activity, Jean has stayed defensive of his organization.
“I have been committed to helping the people of Haiti throughout my life, and that commitment will continue until the day I die,” Jean wrote on his Web site. “I denounce any allegation that I have ever profited personally through my work with Yele Haiti. These baseless attacks are simply not true.”
Though the organization has made an impact in Haiti in the past, it is by no means an immediate relief organization. Yele Haiti representatives told Gawker that the organization is not able to distribute immediate and urgent aid.
This is because Yele Haiti doesn’t have the resources to move the money quickly. With only one employee, donations can take two weeks to a month to process. However, Yele Haiti President Hugh Locke said he’s doing his best to speed things up.
“We may be a small organization, and there are handicaps. But there are also efficiencies,” Locke said to Gawker.
Often, when there’s a huge disaster like the situation in Haiti, many want to help and throw money at organizations without really looking into what they are doing. To help Haitians quickly, your best bet may be to donate to well-established organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders or The Salvation Army.
Picture credit: The Associated Press