Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt brought a rare dose of Hollywood glamour to this beleaguered Caribbean nation during a visit Friday.
The couple, who recently announced they are expecting a baby this summer, flew to Haiti from the neighboring Dominican Republic, where Jolie is filming the movie "The Good Shepherd," directed by Robert De Niro.
They traveled in a convoy through the capital of Port-au-Prince, protected by police and U.N. peacekeepers as crowds cheered them along the way.
"You hear so much just about the danger and the fear and then you come here and you meet just an amazing people," said Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. "Given just a little chance, and given a little help, this is going to be a great country."
Jolie, 30, and Pitt, 42, visited a school supported by Yele Haiti, a charity founded by Haitian-born hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean, where they watched children dance and recite poetry.
They then headed to a juvenile jail where the charity plans to begin a tutoring program for the inmates before attending a one-year anniversary party for Yele Haiti at the local television stationed owned by Jean. Children who receive scholarships from the charity filled the studio, cheering the actors when they took the stage.
"We love this country and we plan to be back over and over again," Jolie said.
Jean praised the actors, who were scheduled to leave Saturday, for visiting during a time of insecurity.
"To have these people grace our country is a beautiful thing," he said.
The visit comes at a tumultuous time for Haiti, with the country struggling to organize its first elections since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power in a violent rebellion nearly two years ago.
Richard Sassine, a board member of Yele Haiti and president of the Haitian Union Bank, said he hopes the visit will highlight the foundation's activities and improve Haiti's image.
"When you have international stars like this," he said, "people want to find out what it's all about. And from there we might get more support."