The Ellis Island Medal of Honor was created to celebrate American citizens, native-born or naturalized, who have made an impact on American lives. Our International Medal is presented under the same criteria to non-US citizens whose humanitarian and charitable contributions to the world are worthy of celebrating. One such person is Denis O'Brien, an Irish businessman from County Cork who astutely turned the mobile phone business he founded in the 1990s into the telecommunications giant, Digicel.
Digicel has been Haiti's largest telecom company for many years, as well as Haiti's largest single investor. But Denis O'Brien's relationship to the Caribbean region goes much deeper than simply business. When the 2010 earthquake rocked Haiti, the Digicel family was personally affected by the loss of two employees and the local staff witnessed firsthand the tragedy that the small island nation endured.
Denis O'Brien and Digicel are now working directly with the nation of Haiti to provide important infrastructures and services. Having invested $600 million directly into the country's rebuilding, Digicel is Haiti's largest employer and foreign investor. While the citizens of Haiti are appreciative of the low-cost communications services Digicel provides, on a larger scale, Digicel has provided important stability and capital, attracting other foreign investors and business to the region.
Denis O'Brien endeared himself to NECO when Digicel was an important sponsor of the 2010 Our Hearts are in El Salvador program, which was initiated by our partner Gift of Life International. On that trip, over 80 children in need received medical care and screening and many were recipients of lifesaving heart surgeries. We are very proud that Mr. O'Brien and Digicel are part of the NECO family. We look forward to following their humanitarian efforts in the future.