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The boy had lost both parents and was suffering from a broken leg. But looking up at Angelina Jolie at his bedside, he smiled wide and shared his hopes. “He said he likes school and wants to go,” recalls Marie-Noelle Little-Boyer, a United Nations relief worker who accompanied Jolie on a three-day trip to Haiti. Yet given the devastation wrought by the catastrophic earthquake five weeks ago, the boy, who sold juice on the street for a living, has huge hurdles ahead. Little-Boyer says that after Jolie left his cot at a makeshift Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, “She said, ‘You see children like that and you wonder where they are going to be in a year.'”
Hoping to improve the outlook for such children, Jolie, 34, arrived in the region Feb. 8 for a visit as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Among her stops: a Red Cross center where volunteers work to reunite families, and SOS Children’s Villages, where she had tea with a “host mother” caring for one of the group’s hundreds of displaced or orphaned kids. The actress and adoptive mother also dismissed the inevitable rumors of another adoption, cautioning: “New adoptions should definitely not be encouraged as an immediate response to the emergency.”
In a country where hundreds of thousands are estimated to be homeless or injured, Jolie spent most of her final day talking to survivors in a tent city in the town of Jacmel. “I was struck by the strength and spirit of the Haitian people,” she says.
Now preparing to shoot the thriller The Tourist in Venice, Jolie jetted to Italy with Brad Pitt and their six kids on Feb. 15 but plans to continue her work for a country she has grown close to. “She feels passionate about Haiti—the place and its people,” says Little-Boyer. “She said, ‘It’s inspiring to see children holding up so strong and thinking about the future. They have incredible resilience.'”
For more information, go to: doctorswithoutborders.org, icrc.org, unhcr.org and sos-childrensvillages.org