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Taking a break from promoting his latest film at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, Matt Damon squeezed in a side-line interview on completely different subject – charity – with the Toronto Star.

Toronto seems to be an annual escape for Damon. He is, after all, the most famous face regularly attached to ONEXONE, a Canadian charity that works to improve the lives of children around the world. Keen to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished, Damon says that since he is finally in a position to do so, for him there is no question.

“[Growing up], we had a magnet on our refrigerator,” he told the Star. “It was a quote from Gandhi: ‘No matter how insignificant what you do may seem, it is most important that you do it.’ I was raised to believe that and I still do. It’s incumbent on us as citizens of the world to do the best we can within our sphere of influence to effect positive change.”

Recalling a recent trip to Ethiopia, he was disturbed to see children drink water that was so dirty it looked like chocolate milk. The alternative, though, would have been for them to not drink, and die faster.

“That kind of deprivation isn’t even on our radar in North America,” said Damon, “but in Africa it’s the central pre-occupation of many people’s lives. Every 15 seconds a child dies because of lack of clean water. There’s two and a half billion people in the world without any toilet facilities.”

Although he says he enjoys spending his time on these projects, such experiences are deeply affecting for Damon: “When I get back from one of these trips, I sit with my wife and finally, after hours and hours of silence, I’ll start talking about what I’ve just seen and experienced. You see the need. You feel it. And it does mark you.”

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