January 18, 2010
Posted: 03:31 PM ET
Although the whole world is aware of the situation in Haiti since the earthquake on January 12, what so many people had no idea about was how dire things were in the country before the disaster. Haiti was the poorest country in the western hemisphere and now it may hold the world title. It is also only a 45 minute flight from the U.S., a sobering fact when you remember how affluent we are.
About two years ago - a party promoter, entrepreneur and Haitian friend of mine in New York City, who goes by the name of Unik told me about his charity, Edeyo. Unik was born in Haiti and came to the U.S. over a decade ago and has been a big splash in the fashion/club/party scene ever since. We had become friends over the years and his dedication to Haiti and his people seemed like a story that needed to be told. We planned in 2008 to go to Port-au-Prince and report on exactly what we saw, what needed to be done and what was being accomplished.
Edeyo - which means “Help Them” is designed to do exactly that. The foundation is based in Port-au-Prince with the fund raising based in New York and Los Angeles. Unik told me how desperate the situation in Haiti was and how he had set up Edeyo as a way to give back and help the country he loved.
As I mentioned, the situation in Haiti had been troubled for many years prior to the earthquake - with corruption at all levels, a serious drug problem, poverty affecting 95-percent of the population, and hunger a constant issue.
50-percent of the population is below the age of 18 and less than one in 10,000 have access to a health care physician. In fact, between the time I had my first meeting with Unik and our trip to Haiti, riots broke out in Port-au-Prince over massive food shortages. The rioters attacked the Presidential Palace, driving a garbage truck through the front gates.
The U.S. Embassy warned us not to go to Haiti and to postpone our trip, so we did. However, the situation calmed and after speaking with a friend at the World Bank who'd just returned from Haiti, she told me:
"Nigel, the people of Haiti need to be heard please go down and shine a spot light on what's happening there."
The U.S. Embassy had closed in Port-au-Prince, so if anything were to happen we were on our own. We decided to make the trip, albeit with a smaller team...
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