George Clooney’s Hope For Haiti telethon delivered all the best of the world’s A-List talent in the fields of TV, movies and music – and then some. – begging for help for the impoverished Caribbean nation that was all but destroyed when a powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit on Tuesday January 12th.
The donation phone lines were manned by a dazzling array of over 100 celebrities using their star power to squeeze every last penny possible from callers, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Gerard Butler, Meg Ryan, Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford, Halle Berry and Leonardo DiCaprio.
There were performances live from Los Angeles, New York and London, and the telethon was beamed live across the world into 640 million homes, with all the greatest musicians coming together in the name of hope and charity.
George Clooney kicked off the telethon with a moving speech about why we should give to a country that has struggled so much in the past, asking how can we make a difference now? Clooney urged people to help, imploring them to let the people of Haiti know that they are “not alone”.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband Chris Martin performed with his band Coldplay live from London, before Halle Berry told the heart breaking story of a young child called Monley that had been trapped under rubble for 8 days, with both his parents killed by the quake. The young boy is now an orphan, along with many other children in Haiti. Touchingly when he was found, near dead, and given life saving treatment, doctors asked him how he was and the little boy said, “I feel good”.
Anderson Cooper gave a moving live report direct from Haiti’s capital Port au Prince, recapping his experiences from the past week and a half and calling the situation an “epic disaster”. Showing a heart wrenching video montage of make shift hospitals, suffering, injured people and collapsed buildings, Anderson begged people to help now, stating “delays equal death” going on to say “all the mass graves have been filled” and that many of Haiti’s people have tragically “just disappeared”.
Leonardo DiCaprio talked about doctors trying to heal the wounded and sick under the worst possible circumstances imaginable, with limited and next to no resources. DiCaprio urged people to donate.
Stevie Wonder gave an impassioned performance live from Los Angeles with a fifteen person choir before Haitian born Wyclef Jean talked about his experiences in Haiti – pulling the dead from the rubble, burying people in mass graves as there was not enough room at the already full cemeteries. The former Fugees band member asked people to pray for the dignity of the Haitian people.
Shakira sang from the Los Angeles studio before Anderson Cooper told the horrifying story of armed robbers storming orphanages in search of food.
John Legend performed an acoustic number leading into an unusually somber and straight faced Jon Stewart telling horrifying stories of death, going on to say that the challenge in Haiti is “ours” and saying we can take “grief and turn it into real and lasting help for Haiti”. He said “the people of Haiti are listening, what will they hear?”
Mary J. Blige gave a moving performance from New York before Samuel L Jackson swore that all donations tonight would go “direct to organizations on the ground”. Mentioning all the top charities working in the country – Oxfam, The Red Cross, Unicef and the World Food Program, who have pledged to feed 2 million people for the next 6 months.
Taylor Swift brought it for the youth factor, followed by a video montage of the time since the quake, from just minutes after the quake struck to now. The video showed footage of one woman throwing up her arms and asking God “Why?” Showing people, dead and alive, being pulled from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, young children, shocked and dazed with blood pouring from head wounds, and people begging rescuers to rescue their loved ones that have been trapped for six days and likely already dead.
Nicole Kidman told the story of one woman, Jeanette, who had been buried alive under a collapsed building for 6 days. Upon rescue, the first thing Jeanette said was “don’t be afraid of death”. Kidman says Jeanette’s husband, Roger, stayed by the building for the entire 6 days his wife was buried, refusing to give up hope. Kidman called the story “inspiring” and said it “teaches us all true undying love”. Kidman said of Jeanette, “Firefighters pulled her out, now you can lift her up” before going on to implore people to donate.
Christina Aguilera performed from Los Angeles before Twilight heart throb Rob Pattinson took to the stage asking viewers to “help Haitians get back on their feet”.
Sting sang live from New York leading onto Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon telling tragic tales of rescue staff that had gone to Haiti to help those in need and lost their own lives in the process. Damon begged, “Make sure their sacrifice wasn’t made in vain”.
Beyonce gave a moving performance of Halo from the New York stage, leading into Morgan Freeman who talked of the many people who have gone to Haiti to volunteer, work and enjoy the culture. Saying many are profoundly moved by their experiences, going on to read a poem by a poet that had lived in Haiti and had received much inspiration from it’s beauty, it’s vibe and it’s people. Freeman urged “Do what you can, they need you”.
Next up from Los Angeles, Sheryl Crow joined forces with Kid Rock and Keith Urban to give a haunting rendition of Lean On Me.
Anderson Cooper returned, introducing a little Haitian girl called Bea. She was trapped for over 18 hours under rubble before being rescued and had tragically lost 10 members of her family. Anderson went on to say that her school has been destroyed and that where she lives there is no running water or food for her to eat.
Bill Clinton shared that he and Hillary visited Haiti on a late honeymoon and that their hearts “were captured by the country”. He said that before the earthquake struck he believed Haiti finally had a chance to build a strong nation, and that he still believes the same, but that it will “take all of us coming together to help our neighbors in need”.
Madonna performed a version of her hit Like A Prayer backed by a gospel choir, live from New York, before Ben Stiller took to the stage in Los Angeles. Stiller explained that children in Haiti go to school in the afternoon so when the quake struck the schools were packed. Stiller says the education system in Haiti was in trouble before the tragedy but is now devastated. He begged viewers to answer the prayers of the Haitian people and donate as much as they can.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave a moving report from Haiti where he said he has “never seen anything like this”. Cradling an injured baby in his arms, Gupta looked close to tears as he recounted stories of patients lying in the corridors and outside streets desperate for treatment and help. Chillingly, he said every 20 – 30 minutes you would hear wailing as another person lost a loved one.
A bearded Justin Timberlake gave a touching rendition of Hallelujah before Chris Rock and Mohammed Ali took to the stage. Ali, looking like just a shell of his former self, was unable to speak due to his advanced Parkinson’s disease, so Rock spoke on his behalf, reading words from the once boxing great, “In my life I have been called many names. There are also many names for charity, in hearts of human beings. Charity crosses boarders and eases pain – changes lives and saves lives. I call upon the good people to help those that can’t help themselves. Please give now”
Jennifer Hudson sang a powerful version of the Beatles classic Let It Be, before Anderson Cooper introduced Monley, the little boy Halle Berry had earlier talked about, saying that the little boy has nowhere to live now. Tragically Anderson goes on to say that there are 10s of ’000s of other children like Monley in Haiti now, saying that is why “we have to do all to help”.
Renown philanthropist Brad Pitt talked touchingly of a lone musician who lost his home and village in the quake and played amongst the rubble, playing for his fellow musicians now gone and to trying to make sense of the devastation and to sooth the city. Introducing a performance by Haitian artist Emily Michelle who sang a powerful version of Many Rivers To Cross.
Tom Hanks talked of one man’s story hunting for his family amid the devastation. Hanks said the man finally found his sister, badly burned and injured, but alive, and found his mother trapped under her collapsed house. Hanks says the man dug her out of the rubble for three hours as the woman cried “don’t let me die”. Hanks said the man “kept going for 60 hours, Tuesday to Friday, he kept going – so must we – we must keep giving. Just keep going.”
Jay-Z, Rihanna and Bono teamed up to give a rousing performance live from London before Julia Roberts joined the stage in Los Angeles recounting the story of one mother whose home collapsed trapping her two-year-old son under the remains. Roberts said the mother could hear her son’s cries for help and that she attempted to dig him out for 50 hours straight with her bare hands before, thankfully, a rescue team arrived on the scene. Roberts said the mother refused to give up and that “now it’s our turn to not give up.”
Neil Young and Dave Matthews covered Alone and Forsaken before Denzel Washington came forward to say that Haiti took “seconds to tear down and will take years to build back.” Begging people to “bring hope to Haiti now”.
Wyclef Jean performed Rivers of Babylon live from New York and then Drew Barrymore talked about how important it was to her to be involved in the telethon, that it was “everyone’s priority” and that there was “total humility in the room”.
The man of the hour George Clooney said that he hadn’t slept for three days but that “Haitians are having a lot tougher time than us.” He went on to say that it’s important to keep giving because they need more help. Clooney said the entire nation is in trouble and that it was a devastating moment in their history. George implored the rest of the world as “human beings to step out and help our fellow humans”.
You can donate via email at hopeforhaitinow.org or via phone: 1-877 994 2484 (1-877-99-HAITI).