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In December 2010, actor/activist/humanitarian Sean Penn, received the Hollywood Humanitarian Award for his work in Haiti through his J/P Haitian Relief Organization.

The following is an excerpt of his tearful and authentically heartfelt acceptance speech.

“When I was first notified – or rather asked – to accept the Hollywood Humanitarian Award recognizing the work of my organization JPHRO in Haiti, the very first thing that came to mind were the chuckles… of laughter of virtually everyone on my staff… at the notion of me being a humanitarian… I pride myself on being a functionary, and my staff rightly prides itself on being able to function under me despite the vitriol, slander and the outright tantrums and demand and bossiness placed on them by yours truly… they offer day in and day out their hearts, their hands, their skills and their love and generosity towards their fellow man, woman, and child in Haiti. It is they who are the humanitarians. They work through major storms, they dance through deadly bacteria, they looked past gun barrels and machete blades into the desperate eyes of people who have been left behind.

“It is Haiti where foreign aid and environmental technical revolution for the first time has a palpable chance of being the epicenter, the example of humanitarian success… when we in the Unites States use an energy saving bulb, we see in the mirror our own impatience as we wait for it to warm up to full brightness. Remember that the Haitians never had a bulb in the first place, and they will invite their extended families to celebrate in the patience of the miracle of developing brightness. Bring the technology to Haiti. Bring some of those jobs to Haiti.

“Haiti deserves our focus. They are our neighbor, and in my core I believe that these if they are allowed to fall – an hour and a half from our shores – we can begin to count our own days.

“I am in Haiti as an American. My organization and I will be as successful as the support we are given. We are 100% transparent and donors can follow their dollars straight into the buckets of the bulldozers that we use to lift the ruble from the streets or the supplies for the saints we call medical volunteers. You cannot finance humanitarianism, the Haitians are human already. What they need are jobs, clean water, education, shelter and security – and it’s they that can teach us so much.

“I will never be able to say enough about the dignity and skills of the young men and women of the United States Military and their humanitarian mission in Haiti.”

Watch Sean Penn’s acceptance speech here.

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