Wyclef Jean tells Oprah he started Yele with $1 million of his own money
Haiti-born, Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean appeared on today’s Oprah Winfrey Show, during which he showed personal videos from his trip to Haiti following the Jan. 12 devastating earthquake. Jean also further denied claims that he had used funds from the Yele Haiti foundation for his personal gain. “The attack on me, it basically came because once we started our movement, no one was focused on Yele until they noticed that we [were] raising $1 million a day after the earthquake,” Jean told Oprah. “What that did was it rose a lot of eyebrows.”
He reiterated: “I have never in any form taken payment for myself. As a matter of fact, when I was starting my charity, I put my first million dollars in.”
Jean did admit that mistakes had been made with Yele. “I think definitely when you’re starting a business, it’s important to have the right people around you. When you’re starting a foundation, it’s even more important,” he said. “I think that it was poorly ran, and I think that we have learned from our mistakes. Moving forward, I think we’re going to be stronger than ever.”
He described his hometown of Port-au-Prince after the quake as “an apocalypse” and said “the entire city feels like walking into a morgue.” Still, he did tell Oprah that the spirit of the people was still evident when he visited with his wife and cousin. “People were singing every night. Despite what they were going through they were still singing ‘Amazing Grace,’” he said.
Oprah also welcomed singers Rihanna and Maxwell to perform on today’s episode. Their performances are now available on iTunes to benefit relief efforts in Haiti.
Jean will also co-host Friday’s Hope for Haiti telethon with George Clooney.
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