CABARET, Haiti — Matt Damon kept his cool as he helped distribute food from a truck that got stuck in the mud in a western Haitian town where Hurricane Ike left hundreds of people homeless and hungry.
He arrived with Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean to hand out rice, beans and cooking oil in Cabaret, a town that saw 60 people die in flash floods when Ike grazed Haiti last week.
Things got rough when the truck carrying 300 bags of food ran into a ditch, forcing the rest of the caravan to stop. Hundreds of Haitians mobbed an SUV carrying the celebrities, chanting "Wyclef!"
"I want to see Wyclef because he is my artist," said Jean Sadrac, an unemployed 25-year-old. "I want Wyclef to help me with money or water."
Jean clambered onto the roof of the SUV to calm the crowd, while bodyguards helped Damon make his way toward the truck with the food. He reached it easily; nobody recognized him.
Damon said he enjoyed being in a place where few people have seen his movies.
"It's nice, it's really easy to move through a crowd like this," Damon told The Associated Press, grinning wryly as he watched Jean talk to the crowd.
About 20 people from Jean's Yele Haiti charity formed a barrier around the back of the food truck, which leaned perilously to one side. The distribution took place right there. Damon tossed the bags to Jean, who placed them on the heads of women as they approached one by one.
Outside the human chain, one young man jumped up and down, waving a DVD of "The Bourne Ultimatum" that he had retrieved from his house after finally recognizing Damon, who laughed and nodded.
The two stars then walked to a nearby church where about 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 in need of aid after 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 moved from Haiti to Brooklyn as a child and leapt to fame with The Fugees, 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."