Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shakira Visits Sean Penn, Launches Effort to Help Rebuild Haiti

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shakira Visits Sean Penn, Launches Effort to Help Rebuild Haiti

Article excerpt

Pop star Shakira came to Haiti on Sunday to look for land suitable to start a school for poor children. She's the latest celebrity to lend her star power to help rebuild Haiti.

Haiti's Petionville Club used to be frequented by the elite of the elite. But after the Jan. 12 earthquake the crowded capital's greenest spot has been transformed into a rainbow of multicolored tents, tarps, bed sheets, and cardboard used in efforts to rebuild Haiti.

It's now a refugee camp for tens of thousands of the more than 1 million Haitians made homeless by the quake.

The grass of the former golf course is virtually unrecognizable with trucks transporting food, water, hygiene kits and building material leaving tracks four inches deep in the mud that now blankets the area.

IN PICTURES: Celebrities giving to Haiti

And an influential group of another nature has replaced the elite, who are long gone. Celebrities.

Just after the quake, movie star-activist Sean Penn set up camp within the camp, and has been working side by side with hundreds of volunteers ever since. Pop star Shakira stopped by the camp briefly Sunday while in the country looking for suitable land for her charity, Barefoot, to build a school for poor children.

Penn is all business

In clothes virtually indistinguishable from all the other members of the Jenkins Penn Haiti Relief Organization that are helping organize the camp, Mr.Penn is all business.

Monday's agenda is moving people from the congested, flood-prone camp to a new area designated by the government about 20 kilometers north of the capital.

Radio in hand, Penn is trying to make sure that the relocation goes smoothly. One little boy who looks to be about five is unhappy about the move, even though it is voluntary. "It's a good thing," Penn says through a translator. "Talk to your mom, she'll tell you that."

The boy shakes his head, unconvinced.

Despite the conditions, many don't want to leave their friends, neighbors and all that is familiar, even if it's now a pile of debris, a flimsy tent, or a leaky tarp. …

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