The New York Post alleges that the charity received $16 million in donations after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, but “spent just $5.1 million for emergency relief efforts.” The paper also claims Yele Haiti paid $1 million to a Florida food distributor, they claim, doesn’t exist.
Jean, a Haitian-born musician, defended the charity’s practices in a statement on his Web site, calling the NY Post piece “misleading, deceptive and incomplete.”
“The Post conveniently fails to acknowledge that the decisions that Yele made were a response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters in modern history and required an immediate humanitarian response,” he writes. “We made decisions that enabled us to provide emergency assistance in the midst of chaos and we stand by those decisions.”
Jean said the charity rebuilt an orphanage, built toilet and shower facilities and provided assistance to more than 250,000 people after the quake, among other accomplishments.
He also said the supposedly non-existent food distributor prepared and delivered almost 100,000 meals.
“Unfortunately, they chose not to include these facts and instead chose to imply that Yele ‘squandered’ donors money. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Jean said in the statement. “The percentage of funds used is consistent with NGOs and Not For Profits operating in Haiti at the time.”
The charity, formed in 2005, has come under fire before for the way it spends donations.
A previous analysis of Yele Haiti’s tax returns raised questions about the higher than usual amount being spent on administrative expenses, as the Post’s Susan Kinzie reported. For example, the charity paid $250,000 to a TV station and production company partially controlled by two members of the board of directors.
Jean admits the charity “has made mistakes in the past,” but said he is “proud” of the way Yele Haiti handled quake relief.