PORT-AU-PRINCE -- If the children were impressed at having the UN Secretary General, a former president of the United States and a world-famous hip-hop star in their midst, they certainly weren’t showing it.
The younger children just got on with their playground games as Ban Ki-moon, Bill Clinton and Wyclef Jean toured the kindergarten. The primary school pupils looked on with bemusement as the trio, surrounded by a phalanx of security personnel, toured classrooms and other facilities.
The two schools - located in the heart of the Cite Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum, and run by the Soeurs de la Charite de St. Vincent de Paul – have some 1,100 pupils. They were the first stop on the dignitaries’ two-day visit to Haiti (9/10 March). Read Reuters article
As well as the schools, this establishment also offers a health clinic, a nutrition centre and a vocational training scheme for women. These are just the sort of social services so badly needed in Haiti – and that WFP and other UN agencies fully support. Read about how WFP is reducing hunger in Gonaives, Haiti
After a welcome song from a group of pupils, the visitors went to the school canteen where children were tucking into beans and rice provided by the World Bank.
The trio then witnessed the start of a distribution of dry rations – rice, beans and oil – to some of the women who use the project’s facilities. Some 370 needy families receive these supplies every month. The distributions are made possible by WFP and its aid agency partners in Haiti, the Bureau de Nutrition et Developpement (BND) and Yele Haiti. (Yele was founded by Wyclef Jean who, when not in the recording studio, often uses his celebrity status to advocate for Haiti).
Clinton Global Initiative
“Bill Clinton has been interested in Haiti for a long time,” said Rob Padberg of BND. “The Secretary General really wanted to visit Haiti and knew about the work of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). And Wyclef, through Yele, continues to be involved in so much that is going on around here”.
YUM! Brands, the restaurant group which is one of WFP's corporate partners, donated US$1 million to Haiti within the framework of a major commitment to school feeding by CGI and WFP.
The dignitaries helped a local woman hoist a 25-kilo bag of rice onto her head. She could probably have managed without their aid but was too polite to say so. After all, it’s not every day you get a Secretary General, a former US president and a hip-hop star help you carry your dinner home.