Wyclef Jean offers new skills to quake-hit Haitians

Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:47am EDT
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By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - James Tabuteau has been living in a ramshackle tent camp in Haiti's capital since last year's catastrophic earthquake wrecked his home, struggling to find enough unskilled temporary work to feed his young family.

But as one of the first graduates of a free vocational training program set up by Haitian-American hip-hop star Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti foundation, Tabuteau is now a newly minted carpenter with hopes of rebuilding his life and his nation.

"The day of my graduation there was an engineer that was attending the ceremony who told me he was interested in hiring me. So I am now talking to them and I am confident I'll find the job. And they also know I was one of the best students," said Tabuteau, a 25-year-old newlywed with a baby son.

"Now I can have a stable job and you never know, I could soon have my own shop. That is my dream."

Yele Haiti has teamed up with several other organizations to help expand the skilled workforce that Haiti needs in order to recover from the massive January 2010 quake that killed up to 300,000 people and made hundreds of thousands homeless.

A class of 106 trainees graduated on July 29 in construction crafts such as carpentry, masonry and plumbing.

"Now, as a plumber I see my future differently," said 29-year-old Jean Luckson Louis-Jeune, a graduate who said he had never held a job before.

"I finished high school, but I did not have the means to enter a university. But one does not have to be an engineer, agronomist or doctor to be useful, the country also needs the professional I have become today," Louis-Jeune said.   Continued...

<p>Grammy-award winning musician Wyclef Jean (C) stands with members of an amputee soccer team composed of Project Medishare patients during a ribbon cutting ceremony in Port-au-Prince May 20, 2011. REUTERS/Swoan Parker</p>