Emile Hirsch explains how his passion for humanitarian aid began with his role in the Sean Penn film 'Into the Wild'- and how that led to an eye-opening trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Oxfam. More recently, Emile spent 12 days in Haiti... working in a displaced-persons camp run by Penn and his relief organization, J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO).
On the personal impact of his trip to the DRC:
First off, it made me completely grateful for the life that I have... I think that it's really easy for anybody to forget (about) the freedoms they have, the luxuries they have, everything you have that you take for granted. You take tap water for granted! I was staying in one of the nicest hotels in the Congo and it barely had running water. We went to another part and we talked to a guy who was missing a leg 'cause he got it shot off in a battle with a tribe over... no real differences, in a certain sense. I talked to people who were rape victims. You want to appreciate what you have and realize that many people have it a lot worse off - but you can see that anywhere though, you know... you can see that on the corner - there's homeless people everywhere.
On seeing Sean Penn as a mentor:
Absolutely, I've always looked up to Sean, and working with him has been a big milestone for me. Just as knowing someone... and getting an opportunity to do the work that we did together on 'Into the Wild', and on 'Milk'.