Lost in most mainstream reports of damage done by the hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit in the past month has been the damage done to the small island of Haiti, which was directly in Gustav's crosshairs. More than 600,000 people have been displaced there, with more than 500 losing their lives, causing president René Preval to appeal for help. Native son Wyclef Jean, who also serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the island, is doing just that through his Yéle Haiti initiative, launching the Haiti Storm Relief Fund, a movement dedicated to providing food, water, purification tablets, tents, blankets, medical supplies, hygiene kits as well as funds to a number of non-profit organizations working on the ground to respond to the emergency. Yéle Haiti was founded by Jean for the purpose of bringing hope back to Haiti through projects designed to make a difference in the fields of education, health, environment and community development. "My country is facing a serious catastrophe at the moment and we urgently require assistance," Jean stated. What's just as important, according to the singer/activist, is the need for aid in restoring the island's forests, which have been decimated by the storms. Without that long-term attention, he added, Haiti will be "susceptible to mudslides and flash floods from [future] storms and hurricanes."
To donate to the cause and find out more about the initiative, please go to www.yele.org.