(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Matt Damon and Wyclef Jean lightened the misery for Haiti's floods victims Saturday, arriving to hand out food and lend star power to relief efforts.
Damon and Haitian-born singer Jean are encouraging more people to help the United Nations raise more than US$100 million for an estimated 800,000 people left in dire circumstances by four devastating tropical storms and hurricanes.
The two stars arrived in the town of Cabaret, where hundreds of Haitians mobbed their SUV, raised their hands in the air and yelled, "Wyclef!" repeatedly, unsettling security guards.
Cabaret, north of the Haitian capital, had 60 residents die in flash floods and hundreds were left homeless as Hurricane Ike grazed Haiti last week.
"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."
The two celebrities planned to distribute food to an estimated 600 people sheltered in a school, but a truck carrying food for 300 people got stuck in the mud.
"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 Yele Haiti charity in 2006.
"Hopefully we can make enough noise that people will pay attention," Damon told reporters earlier at a news conference at the airport in Port-au-Prince. "I truly believe in the people of my country."
Damon was wearing ripped jeans and a black, button-down shirt, while Jean wore a camouflage shirt with a puffy, olive-green vest and matching cap.
Damon and Jean will take a helicopter Sunday to the even harder-hit city of Gonaives, where tens of thousands are living in shelters with little food and water. The stars will distribute supplies and visit the cathedral, where about 500 people have taken refuge in the choir gallery above muddy pews.
At least 331 people have died in the onslaught of storms since mid-August, which has overwhelmed international relief agencies.
Henri Praviel, the local Civil Protection director, said that "aid is trickling in but it is still not enough."