Matt Damon, Wyclef Jean help Haitian storm victims

September 13, 2008 8:03:40 PM PDT
Matt Damon stayed calm and joked around while he helped with a chaotic food distribution Saturday in western Haiti, where hundreds of people remain homeless and hungry. He arrived in the town of Cabaret with Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean to distribute rice, beans and oil to residents of a town that saw 60 people die in flash floods when Hurricane Ike grazed Haiti last week.

Hundreds of Haitians mobbed their SUV, raising their hands in the air and yelling, "Wyclef!"

"I want to see Wyclef because he is my artist," said 25-year-old Jean Sadrac. "I want Wyclef to help me with money or water."

About 20 people from Jean's Yele Haiti charity formed a barrier around the back of a truck carrying 300 bags of food that got stuck in the mud. Damon tossed the bags to Jean, who placed them on the heads of women as they approached one by one.

Outside the human chain, a young man jumped up and down, waving a DVD of "The Bourne Ultimatum" that he had retrieved from his house after recognizing Damon, who laughed and nodded.

The two stars then walked to a nearby church where an estimated 600 people were sheltered. They knelt to talk to an emaciated, elderly man lying on the muddy floor before they began serving food. Damon poured red vegetable sauce over plates of rice that Jean handed out to people.

Damon and Jean encouraged more people to help the United Nations raise more than US$100 million for an estimated 800,000 Haitians left in dire circumstances by four devastating tropical storms and hurricanes since mid-August.

"What I'm doing, I'm doing from the heart because I love Haiti," Jean said.

Jean, who leapt to fame with The Fugees before going solo, has often brought his famous friends to draw attention to the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt visited with his charity in 2006.

"Hopefully we can make enough noise that people will pay attention," Damon told reporters earlier at a news conference in the capital, Port-au-Prince. "I truly believe in the people of my country."


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