Oscar-winning artist Jared Leto, UNDP and partners call for continued support for Haiti

Oct 2, 2014

Jessica Faieta and artist Jared Leto: "Haiti still needs us" Photo: Carolina Azevedo/UNDP

New York, USA - Thousands of fans joined actor, musician and philanthropist Jared Leto to discuss the challenges and advances in Haiti during a fundraising concert and conversation held on 30 September.

The Oscar-winning actor invited UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Jessica Faieta and Partners in Health expert Samantha Ender to join the chat.

Most of the audience joined the event on-line, through the live stream platform VyRT, while around 50 fans gathered in-person at a venue in Brooklyn, New York City.

The event followed Leto’s newly published book with pictures from his recent trip to Haiti, where he spent part of his childhood.

As he showed the audience colourful pictures and tales of hardship and endurance, Jared Leto fondly recalled his “tree-climbing and mango fetching childhood” in “sunny and magical” Haiti.

“Haitians are some of the hardest-working people I’ve ever seen,” Leto said as he showed a picture of a lady carrying a huge bag on her head.

He also told the audience he had witnessed the UN’s positive work in Haiti, including to help boost security in the Caribbean country.

Leto asked Faieta questions ranging from health concerns and accountability to disaster recovery and aid dependency risk.

The audience asked questions online and in-person about the Caribbean country and how to continue supporting the Haitians.

 “The only way a country can truly develop is if it boosts its own institutions and beefs up the Rule of Law,” Faieta told one 30 Seconds to Mars - Leto's band -  fan.

“Despite the multiple crises going on right now in the world we cannot forget the Haitians: Haiti still needs us,” Faieta said, reminding the audience that the amount of rubble following the earthquake– which is practically cleared by now— was 10 times larger than the World Trade Center debris in New York City.

Faieta, who led UNDP’s post-quake reconstruction efforts in Haiti for over two years, also stressed some of the country’s advances, particularly in health and education.

According to UNDP’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG)_Report for Haiti, the country has steadily boosted net enrolment rate in primary education from 47 percent in 1993 to 88 percent in 2011, achieving equal participation of boys and girls in education (MDG 2). Haiti has also halved the number of underweight children under five years old (MDG 1) three years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

In spite of the devastating 2010 earthquake which killed at least 200,000 people—including 30 percent of Haitian civil servants—the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose from US$1,548 per capita (PPP) in 2009 to $1,602 per capita in 2012, with extreme poverty stabilizing at 24 percent in 2012, according to the UNDP report.

The event wrapped up with Leto’s solo concert, playing some of the fans' favorite 30 Seconds to Mars hits.

All proceeds from the virtual gathering and the book will go to institutions in Haiti working with UNDP and Partners in Health.

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