July 15, 2010

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman talked to Sean Penn about how things are going in Haiti six months after the disaster that has left their country hanging by a thread which was already impoverished. I'm really glad to see CNN's Anderson Cooper revisiting this as well on his show. These people need our support. Hats off to Penn and everyone who is making sure their story doesn't fade away from the limelight and to Penn for the great work he's doing there.

From Democracy Now.

Sean Penn on Haiti Six Months After the Earthquake, Recovery Efforts and Why He Decided to Manage a Tent Camp of 55,000 Displaced Haitians:

AMY GOODMAN: Six months after the earthquake in Haiti, not much has changed and yet Haiti will never be the same. Up to 300,000 were killed in the disaster and more than 1.5 million were made homeless. Now, half a year later, many Haitians say they have seen little in terms of recovery efforts.

The teeming city of Port-au-Prince looks like a war zone. Rubble and debris is everywhere and has become a part of the landscape. There is little food, clean water or sanitation. Only two percent of promised reconstruction aid has been delivered. More than 1,350 tent camps fill the streets, with makeshift tarps and sheets providing little shelter. Other tent camps set up by the Haitian government are in remote areas, far from the capital and set up on barren landscape. In Corail, the government’s primary relocation camp some 15 miles from Port au Prince, a storm on Monday collapsed at least 94 tents and sent hundreds of residents fleeing to find shelter.

Meanwhile, in Port au Prince, Haitian President Rene Preval hosted a medal ceremony at the crushed national palace to defend the government’s response to the quake. Bulldozers, dump trucks and other heavy equipment that are usually nowhere to be seen in the capital were lined up on the palace grounds for the occasion. Just across the street, in the massive Champ de Mars camp, thousands of homeless sat baking in the summer heat.

Among those at the ceremony were former President Bill Clinton, now co-chair of the Interim Commission for Haiti’s Reconstruction. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and two-time Academy Award-winning actor and director, Sean Penn were honored and presented with medals. Sean Penn first came to Haiti after the earthquake struck to help with immediate relief efforts. He decided to stay to finish what he started. He co-founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization and is managing a tent camp on the Petionville golf-course that now shelters some 55,000 people. On Sunday night, we went to visit Sean Penn’s camp. We walked in and asked to speak to him. We were ushered into a large tent and ended up sitting down with the Hollywood star for more than an hour talking about Haiti, recovery efforts and the lack of them, his life and what inspired him to do what he is doing. Read on...

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