Actor Sean Penn has been doing his best to help Haiti rebuild and he isn’t leaving the country any time soon. Penn’s role in helping Haiti recover has been increasingly significant. Last month it was reported that he earned the Peace Summit Award for his humanitarian efforts in the area that was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.
It has been two years since the earthquake rocked Haiti’s foundation, crumbling buildings and leaving many hurt and homeless. Penn was one of the first to volunteer his time to help rebuild. It was his first time visiting and now he plans to stay there, at least part-time, for the long haul. The recovery has been slow but progress is being made.
Just a year ago, the actor was living in a tent with 40,000 others on a muddy golf course where he would keep a Glock pistol tucked in his waistband when visiting the capital. Penn went from being a celebrity volunteer that many didn’t take seriously to becoming the unofficial mayor of the gold course turned homeless shelter.
Haiti has quickly become Penn’s second home. His non-profit J/P Haitian Relief Organization has become a leader in helping the country clean up and move on. Penn and the others no longer live on the golf course. To clear off the club’s golf course, Penn and his staff cleared 250,000 cubic meters of rubble, repaired damaged homes, and provided rental assistance to those in need. The group promised people jobs so they subsidized a local bakery to provide those jobs. Penn’s group is also responsible for running a community center, two clinics and is in the process of building a new school.
Maryse Kedar, president of an education foundation that worked alongside Penn, said of the actor, “At the beginning, we thought he was going to be like one of the celebrities who don’t spend the night… Sean surprised a lot of people here. Haiti became his second home.”
Penn choked up in telling the AP about his mission in Haiti. “My job is to help people get the future they want to have,” he said.
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