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Washington, D.C., May 20, 2009 – Jimmy Jean-Louis, a Haiti-born movie star and human rights activist, told the Voice of America (VOA) Tuesday that children in his native country are being "used, abused and forced to work."
Jean-Louis, known as "The Haitian" on the NBC series Heroes, is promoting a six-month campaign, "I Too Am Haiti" (www.itooamhaiti.org), to fight slavery, trafficking and exploitation of up to 200,000 children in Haiti.
"I was a kid myself, I grew up in Haiti. I understand the situation … it's a disaster," said Jean-Louis, who was interviewed by VOA's Creole and Spanish services.
Jean-Louis, also a Goodwill Ambassador for Children for the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), said children are suffering in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. "It's hard because they're being used, abused and forced to work," he said.
The "I Too Am Haiti" campaign supports efforts to curb the exploitation of children, sending donations including food, and support for training of police officers.
Jean-Louis, well-known worldwide after appearing in films such as Tears of the Sun, Hollywood Homicide and Monster in Law, said he wanted to put his fame to good use.
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"Hollywood is a power, if you get the media's attention you can get the world's attention," he said. Jean-Louis has also developed his own non-profit, "Hollywood Unites for Haiti" (www.HUFH.org). His goal is to provide children with sports and cultural activities to keep them off the streets. "We have a lot of causes to fight for, but I think sports and cultural activities can help open these children’s minds," he said. The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,250 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
VOA's Spanish and Creole programs can be listened to on their web pages – www.VOANews.com/Spanish and www.VOANews.com/Creole.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.