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Wyclef Performs for Haitian Youths

January 12, 2005

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Dozens of Haitian youths mobbed hip-hop star Wyclef Jean as he visited a slum to inaugurate a program to support education in his impoverished native country.

The youths watched the former Fugees rapper perform an impromptu rendition Tuesday of his new song ``Gonaives″ atop a truck in a soccer field in Cite Soleil, a seaside slum outside the capital of Port-au-Prince. They ran after him as he hopped on a small bicycle and rode around the field.

Jean was visiting the L’Athletique d’Haiti Sports Academy, an after-school program in Cite Soleil that provides tutoring and sports training for 650 youths. He inaugurated an initiative to provide scholarships to help new participants stay in school, a requirement for the after-school program.

Free schools are rare in Haiti, and many families cannot afford tuition.

Among the those mobbing Jean were 25 children who have received ``Wyclef scholarships″ with a grant of $23,800.

At least 100 more scholarships will be awarded in the first initiative launched by Yele Haiti, Jean’s new foundation to help youths in his native country.

``What Sammy Sosa has done for the Dominican Republic, that’s what I think I can do for Haiti,″ Jean said, referring to the Dominican-born baseball star who founded a charity for health in education in his country.

Yele Haiti is also planning a program to provide scholarships for 4,000 children in the northern city of Gonaives where floods killed more than 2,000 people in September. It also will rebuild 20 damaged schools. Many schools in Gonaives have yet to reopen due to flood damage.


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