Monday, July 19, 2010

Sean Penn on Haiti, non-profit culture on Charlie Rose --

He said many insightful things which could also apply to Burma scene.

Notes: unofficial transcript.

There are organizations there with the attitude, if we can’t do it first, we don’t need to be there.
It’s a celebrity culture. They are in big mansions with a chef while the earthquake victims are in tents.
I didn’t go to New Orleans after Katrina for the first 4 days because I thought I would be in the way. When I went I saw that government was not there – 2 men in one boat, we saved 40 persons that day.
Non-profits, it’s a celebrity culture. When you go there, to a non-profit party and someone comes in, it’s always so and so etc.
It’s you pull back the curtain on government., and there’s nothing there.
There’s war in Afghanistan, there’s Surge, there’s this island (close to us).
It’s like making a movie – we’re not interpreting scripts but giving the appearance of doing so.
We’re building sets, but then there’s no infrastructure.
I consider myself a facilitator, a functionary.
Ironically, the non-profits are called “actors” those who are acting there.
What’s missing is the press, as they provide the oversight. (free press)
Rene Preval’s government believes in delegating, decentralizing.
Non-profit culture is self-perpetuating.
One of my friends says I am having a fringe experience.
CR: I don’t understand fringe experience.
SP: In the sense that it’s not the norm (most frequent occurrence, statistically)
But in fact (we in USA) are the fringe.
We are missing something, and there will be more drugs, more trips to the psychologist etc.
It's all one thing (the world).
All these organizations, when they have something (like morphine for instance) they just have it, they don’t go to the field to the field managers and say “we have this, do you need this?” All the organizations. They say, “Well it’s on our website.”
Well, someone running a help station/clinic etc. has no time to look on the web.
(NGO execs) just sitting in bar and drinking beer and having a cigarette.
Well, (get your butt off) and leave the bar and distribute the items.

Haiti, it's very resilient. A Haitian friend told me when the world ends, there will be cockroaches, and -- and Haitians. There's the warmth (of the children's smiles) and this is what we are missing in America.

 This was written from memory. Any one who wants exact words should check the url above and watch the actual interview.

Sean Penn’s organisation JP Human Rights Organization works with RSF, Save the Children etc. He said during the interview that they work under the auspices of IOM (International Organization for Migration) even though refugees technically are those who crossed borders, (whereas Haitians are in Haiti and earthquake just happened.)

Posted and transcribed by Kyi May Kaung.

Kyi May Kaung