“I just didn’t waste any time on it because I feel like it was the easiest thing that could be done with my network," the 30-year-old rapper tells New Times. "I wasn’t asking for much. I didn’t ask for no money. All I was asking for was a place where people could drop things off, and that’s it.”
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Haitian musicians from South Florida are doing everything they can to assist the people of their homeland. Zoey started by requesting crucial supplies like baby formula, diapers, hand sanitizer, nonperishable foods, and other necessities, in lieu of asking for monetary donations. He initially set up one location in Wynwood and two spots in South Miami-Dade for people to drop off the supplies. After receiving support from DTLR's community outreach arm, Bar One, and others, Zoey wound up with 16 different locations for people to drop off donations.
In a thread posted to his social media accounts, Zoey Dollaz explained why he’s asking for vital supplies over cash.
“That’s still the case,” Zoey wrote when asked whether he'd accept monetary donations. “Just not for my personal friends. I’ll collect monetary donations from them. But as far as asking my fans or supporters, I don’t want their money to be tied up in my hands. I want them to see where their money is going.”
He followed up his plea by creating Amazon wishlists filled with critical items and entered into a collaboration with Reebok to help provide 1,000 shoes for the kids.
Zoey isn’t the only Haitian artist making moves for Haiti. Several other musicians and nonprofits have stepped up to raise funds and deliver necessary supplies to the island.
Michaël Brun, a Haitian-born record producer and DJ, is appreciative of every effort to help Haiti, whether it's for disaster relief or educational purposes. In the past, Brun has done everything from performing at parties at lavish venues like LIV to hosting festivals on the island to raise funds. Speaking from his own experience, Brun believes it's best to work with people and organizations in the country who best understand the population's needs.
"I think there are a lot of really great people on the ground in Haiti," Brun says. “I try to always work with organizations that have a local presence and local leadership because I think the local leadership and local presence allows it to be long-lasting in a way where people are not coming in and trying to figure out what is needed. They're already present in the region and know what ways we can help strengthen this community and empower them.”
In the days following the earthquake, numerous organizations, including Hope for Haiti, Ayiti Community Trust, and We Reach Foundation, set up various ways to donate funds and supplies. Personnel from Miami-based We Reach recently traveled to the island, where they were able to buy supplies locally and deliver care packages that included food, tarps, toiletries, and flashlights. They also provided water-filtration systems and educated residents on how to use them. With help from prominent artists like Miami’s own Dread Zoe, Wild’N Out star Jessie Woo, and others, We Reach was able to help at least 500 families.
The efforts to help the island will continue throughout the fall season. Zoey plans to hit the stage with rapper and Freebandz founder Future for Headliner Marketing Group’s Benefit Concert for Haiti at the Oasis Wynwood over Labor Day weekend.
Before Future and friends invade Miami, other Haitian artists like Frank Kastle, Prez P, and Kiddo Marv will perform at a Haiti Relief Concert in West Palm Beach on Sunday, August 29, to support the efforts of organizations like We Reach and the Tearfund Foundation.
“With what’s going on in Haiti right now, if all the Haitian people who are now in better living conditions here in America and other countries around the world come together, we can make a real difference,” Prez P tells New Times. “With Haiti being one of the strong countries in history based on what we’ve been through and overcame, it deserves to be built back up to that stature. We can start with donating and rebuilding.”
“I just feel like it’s our job to be there for the people,” add Dread Zoe, who is of Jamaican descent. “They’ve been through so much.”
Since the earthquake, the death toll has risen to 2,207, according to CBS News. More than 300 people are still missing, 12,000 are injured, and nearly 50,000 buildings have crumbled. Citizens who aren’t homeless are fearful of sleeping in their homes owing to the lingering threat of aftershocks. Even as aid is delivered to the region, gangs have hijacked trucks full of supplies, and desperate crowds have sparred over bags of food.
As the Haitian population struggles to heal, big names in the entertainment and sports industries have pledged to help the beleaguered nation. Rock band Linkin Park, the New England Patriots, and tennis star Naomi Osaka have made major donations.
To artists like Zoey Dollaz, helping Haiti in the island’s time of need is an act of love.
“It’s home,” Zoey says. “That’s where I was raised at. That’s what really made me. Everything pertaining to Haiti is personal to me. It’s always going to be like that.”