Sean Penn snags millions in World Bank aid for Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Saturday March 16, 2013 – Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has secured a US$8.75 million aid package from the World Bank to help move Haitians out of a makeshift camp on a golf course where many have been living since the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The money will be spent on new housing units or rent subsidies, according to a statement issued by Penn’s aides. 

About 14,000 impoverished Haitians still live at the Petionville Golf Club in tents and temporary wooden shacks. At one point 60,000 people called the sprawling site home, and those who are still living there are to be moved out by early next year.

As a result of Penn’s untiring efforts and high visibility as an on-the-ground advocate for rescue and aid efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 catastrophe, he was designated Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti by President Michel Martelly.

Penn received the designation in January 2012, marking the first time a non-Haitian citizen had been designated as such in the country’s history. 

The 52-year-old star of “Dead Man Walking,” “Mystic River” and “Milk” maximises the post to raise awareness and secure assistance for the nation which is still struggling to recover from one of the world’s worst natural disasters of all time.

The American actor’s J/P Haitian Relief Organisation took responsibility for the impromptu settlement on the slopes of a private golf club near Port-au-Prince a few months after the earthquake struck in January 2010, destroying thousands of buildings.

The organisation moved from helping with food, sanitation and health care to becoming a rapidly expanding and increasingly prominent aid group.

The number of people displaced by the quake has dropped from a high of 1.5 million people to about 347,000 now.

Last April, Penn was honoured for his work in Haiti with the presentation of the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago.

The Academy Award-winning actor, who had never set foot in Haiti before the earthquake, has become a major figure in the efforts to rebuild and has raised millions of dollars in aid at celebrity fundraising events in the United States and Europe. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)