matt damon water dot org

He speeds around the globe in dangerous car chases as the spy in the “Bourne” movies, but in real life, Matt Damon chases down the one thing every person needs, but can’t always get—clean water.

Damon’s appearances worldwide for the charity have delivered danger-free drinking water to 4.3 million people in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

After a trip to Zambia with U2’s frontman Bono in 2006, Damon was hit with how important a fresh water supply can be to families. Without safe drinking water, kids have to spend their days scavenging for water, often carrying it miles to their homes, instead of going to school.

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Back in the U.S., Damon started talking to Gary White, who’d created the nonprofit WaterPartners more than 15 years earlier. Together, they launched in 2009.

The charity’s WaterCredit micro-loans let families purchase taps and toilets—an average of just $178 each that has put $151 million dollars toward improving the lives of 3.6 million people.

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By using the micro-loans instead of grants, the charity is able to “recycle” money — as people pay off their debt, the money is loaned to others — reaching 10 times as many people.

The actor is still surprised at how much access to water can change lives. He talked to a young girl while dedicating a new well in Haiti and asked her what she planned to do with all the free time she’d have now that she no longer carries water.

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“She looked at me dead in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to play,’” Damon told the New York Daily News. “And it just buckled my legs because I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, she’s a child – she deserves a childhood.’”

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