Matt Damon has put pen to paper and written an article for Parade Magazine on the importance of giving back.
“Here’s something that matters to me right now,” wrote Damon, who is a founder of Not On Our Watch, H2O Africa and Water.org. "Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. I should probably repeat that: Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. A billion people on our planet will never have a clean drink of water. There are 2.5 billion people in the world without toilet facilities. That kind of deprivation isn’t even on our radar in the U.S., but in Africa it’s the central preoccupation of many people’s lives. And the most devastating thing about it is that it takes so little to change it. Just $25 will give someone clean water for life—yes, just $25 will change someone’s future forever.
“I’ve taken a lot of trips in the last few years to places like Africa and India and Haiti to try to learn what conditions are like. You can read about extreme poverty and possible solutions, but it’s really powerful when you get to meet the people and shake their hands and listen to their stories. I try to keep my trips short because my kids are so young that my wife, Lucy, can’t come. We don’t like to be separated, but we both feel it’s so important to learn about these things. There’s so much I don’t know. In the future, I know these trips are something we’ll do as a family.
“There’s so much need, it’s so hard to decide where to give. For me, I look at the organizations that are actually doing the work on the ground. I co-founded Water.org, which focuses on water and sanitation. I was in Ethiopia earlier this year, and I watched children taking filthy water out of a hand-dug well and putting it in bottles to take to school. The water was so dirty, it looked like chocolate milk. I wanted to knock it out of their hands and say, “Don’t drink that—it could kill you.” The dilemma is that drinking nothing at all will kill them even faster. Parents in these impoverished areas lose children every year to diseases that could be completely prevented if they had access to clean water.
“Please find out what you can do to make a difference. Take five minutes to educate yourself on an issue you didn’t know about before. Then tell somebody else. Or make a small donation, if you can. Every dollar counts. Charitable foundations would rather have a million people donate $1 each than have a handful of people write big checks, because that means millions of us are getting involved. If you give $5 and talk to your neighbor about giving $5, that’s a big deal. If that conversation goes on across the country, we’ll really start moving some mountains.
“We’re here for such a short time. When your great-great-grandkids study history, don’t you want them to be proud that you were part of the solution?”
To read the full article Damon has written, visit the Parade Magazine website. You can also join Parade Magazine’s Giving Challenge – in which you could win $50,000 for your favorite charity – by clicking here.