10/29/2008 AT 05:25 PM EDT
Before surprising Clint Eastwood
this week at the Hollywood Film Festival Awards Gala, Angelina Jolie
traveled to the other side of the world for her first trip to war-torn Afghanistan
Jolie, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency, met refugees who have returned to their post-Taliban homeland to rebuild their lives after fleeing in 2001. She also visited projects by Afghan Hands
, an organization helping women and children, inspired by her work with refugees. "After seeing real suffering," she tells PEOPLE, "you never complain anymore."
What's the first thing she did after returning home? "Hug the kids." – Mary GreenFor more on Jolie's trip to Afghanistan, including exclusive photos, get this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands FridayRELATED ARTICLE:
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