Monday, April 26, 2010

Wyclef Jean Lends Star Power to Haiti Bikes Initiative

Haiti Bikes, an initiative born in Montclair and started by Saveur Creole's owner Ronald Mompoint, has teamed up with Pedals 4 Progress in a fundraiser with wheels. They plan to ship more than 220 bikes to Haiti by the end of April, and many more after that.

Haiti Bikes, a noble intention organization, has hooked up with non-profits such as Yele Haiti, headed by Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean, and Edeyo, to make its first bike shipment a quantifiable success, from which it plans to build. Yele Haiti, started by Jean who is also a recording artist and social entrepreneur, is aimed at improving the lives of those in impoverished Haiti. Edeyo is a non-profit that rebuilds Haitian schools and provides kids with educational material and nutritional support.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake of Jan. 12 killed 230,000 people in Haiti, injured 300,000 and left a million people without homes. It destroyed much of Haiti's infrastructure, leaving roads impassable to vehicles. This inspired Mompoint's bike program.

While he couldn't be reached for this post, Mompoint, who grew up in Haiti, told recently, "Your car has been impacted by the whole scenario. If you have a bike, you have a way to go from point A to point B."

Mayor Jerry Fried, who has taken an interest in Haiti Bikes and played an advisory role in furthering its mission, said the tie-up with Pedals4Progress is aimed at ensuring the bike shipments will get to the people who need it on the other end. Apparently, P4P's shipments in the past have gone astray due to a lack of local connections in Haiti, an issue that would conceivably be resolved by mining the family and social networks of Haiti Bikes and Yele Haiti.

Said Fried, a biking enthusiast, "Ronald (Mompoint) started the group because he had this vision of how having a bike allowed him, as a kid, to be free, and how having one in Haiti allows one to get someplace; it's key for economic vitality and transportation."

At a meeting on Friday, Wyclef Jean lent his star power at Saveur Creole, and also present were Fried, Mompoint, and several other residents who are on the Haiti Bikes committee.

A concert is planned in June which Haiti Bikes hopes will raise awareness and boost its bike shipments.

(Photo shows Haiti Bikes supporters, including Wyclef Jean (in red), Jerry Fried and Ronald Mompoint, at Saveur Creole on Friday)

Source: BaristaNet

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