Sean Penn Launches “Beat The Rain” Campaign
The Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization, which was created by actor/director Sean Penn and philanthropist and entrepreneur Diana Jenkins in the days immediately following the Haiti earthquake, has launched a “Beat the Rain” campaign aimed at more quickly relocating tens of thousands of Haitians before the heavy rain season begins.
The effort is launched to protect hundreds of thousands of Haitians, who are living in tent cities and camps, from the possible outbreaks of cholera, tuberculosis, typhoid, tetanus, and malaria, which will easily spread with the arrival of the rainy season next month. The mission of the campaign is to raise funds for secure, temporary homes in the region, as well as to call upon local officials to expedite the inspection process, in order for the citizens to be safe from the rain and avoid a second wave of devastation. There is also concern that riots could break out if displaced citizens are physically forced out of the tent city if conditions are too severe. To help with the relocation and much needed efforts on behalf of the Haitian people, J/P HRO is seeking donations on their website or www.beattherain.org.
“When the rain comes, it’s going to be a public health disaster,” said Penn. “It could easily be on the scale of the earthquake itself. What we’re trying to do is prevent it. The inspection process is too slow and people are not being let back into their homes. There is enormous risk if they are not relocated or given better means of shelter soon. Disease is spreading already— tuberculosis, typhoid, tetanus, malaria. There were incredible hygiene problems within the neighborhoods prior to the quake. This is a new disaster waiting to happen, if we do not take action now and do something to prevent it.”
Less than a week after the quake, Penn and J/P HRO cofounder Diana Jenkins arrived in Haiti with a team of doctors and emergency response volunteers and set up camp at Club de Pétionville (Petionville Club), a golf course area converted into a tent city overseen by the US Army’s 82nd Airborne now housing about 75,000 Haitian citizens. For more than three weeks, Penn and the J/P HRO have set up satellite clinics throughout camps in Port-Au-Prince, made independent food distributions and collaborative distributions with the US Army’s 82nd Airborne. They brought in and distributed approximately 4,000 water filters, delivered medical supplies, bought critical medical equipment for local hospitals and employed nearly 100 Haitians as translators, security, drivers, doctors, and nurses. J/P HRO built a temporary school for 300 students and a trauma center working with Haitian community groups registering the 75,000 displaced residents of the Pétionville camp. They have arranged treatment and travel for critically ill children as well as facilitating Dept. of Homeland Security clearances for patients’ travel.
The Petionville camp is serving as a model for camps around the country in its cutting edge Vulnerable Identification Program (VIP), established by J/P HRO Medical Directors Raul Ruiz and Alison Thompson. The VIP marks the tents and administers to those who need follow up care and are immobilized. The Petionville camp and its 75,000 displaced residents, however, is also in the most vulnerable position because of its hillside location and the imminent rain, according to UN Humanitarian coordinator Kim Balduc.
When the federal D/Mat hospital staff at Pétionville Camp was recalled to the U.S., J/P HRO took control of the facility, staffing it with their own doctors in collaboration with Haitian doctors, US Military medics and support from a multi-national medical staff. The hospital has been built upon by J/P HRO with the addition of a fully functioning X-ray and ultrasound machines.
Dr. Susan Briggs Team Commander Gheskio Field Hospital, PAP remarked on J/P HRO’s contribution as follows: “On behalf of the US Field Hospital (Gheskio) in Port-au-Prince, I would like to thank Sean Penn and his colleagues for helping us secure life-saving equipment for the care of pediatric patients. Without this donation, lives would have been lost.”
For their remarkable contributions, J/P HRO members Sean Penn, Oscar Gubernati, Dr. Raul Ruiz and Alison Thompson were each awarded the U.S. Army’s Commander’s Award for Service by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Foster of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne.
“I can’t say enough positive things about the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne,” Penn continued. “They are an extraordinary representation of America. The word “hero” is often over-used and often misplaced. But these guys are heroes. What they’ve done should make every American very proud. To receive this medal was a profound honor to say the least, and something we as a group will always treasure.”
ABOUT J/P HRO
The Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization was launched by a generous $1 million commitment by philanthropist and entrepreneur Diana Jenkins and her charitable foundation. The J/P HRO harnesses the power of 21st century technology, a vast network of contacts and volunteers, fundamental emergency response techniques and community organizing skills to bring about change in Haiti. Because J/P HRO’s leadership works directly on the ground in Haiti, and is currently based and operating out of a tent base camp on the perimeter of the army base adjacent to the 75,000 displaced in Petionville, decisions are made daily as to how to best allocate resources and care for those in most critical need. The organization was built to support the needs of hospitals, government, religious and community organizations, and works in tandem with U.S. government organizations, (including the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne and the U.S. State Department), other charitable and non-governmental organizations and receives international support. Because J/P HRO operates with virtually no administrative overhead and has an army of volunteers, nearly all contributions go directly to the people who need it.
Within a month J/P HRO accomplished the following:
– Treated more than 40,000 patients on everything from major trauma and communicative diseases to births
– Delivered more than 100,000 pounds of medical supplies
– Employ nearly 100 Haitians including translators, drivers, security, doctors and nurses
– Distributed approximately 2,000 meals a day to earthquake victims
– Brought in and distributed approximately 4,000 water filters
– Donated to local hospitals much needed equipment like an X-ray machine, ventilators, and ultrasound machines
– Cut through bureaucracy and red tape to bring in large shipments of antibiotics and anesthetics, which are in short (but much needed) supply
– Built a temporary school and emotional trauma center for approximately 300 children and growing
– Arranged travel and treatment for numerous critically ill children
– Improved communications and are conducting a census in the Club de Pétionville (Petionville Club) golf course area converted into a tent city overseen by the US Army and now houses about 75,000 Haitian citizens
– Maintained an entirely self-sustainable operation
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