Help Make Matt Damon Smile

The actor and cofounder of water.org talks about the cause closest to his heart.

Interview with Lesley Jane Seymour
Matt Damon in Ethiopia
Photograph: Photo by Jens Mortensen

Where have you visited recently, and what progress have you seen?
Most recently, I visited water.org project sites in Tamil Nadu, India, with Gary White, water.org’s other co-founder. The progress we’re making with our programs there is astounding, especially with WaterCredit. WaterCredit facilitates small loans for water and sanitation, freeing up grant resources to go to the poorest of the poor.
PepsiCo Foundation funds a large part of our programming in this area and this program is exceeding expectations by leaps and bounds. Water.org is projecting to reach 160,000 people [in the area] with safe water. The cost per person served is only $18. Nearly 17,000 microloans have been disbursed for water and sanitation improvements and the average repayment rate is 99 percent. And each donor dollar is leveraging an additional $1.60 to the program. This includes $3.3 million secured in commercial capital and $3.5 million in local contributions (labor, materials, and cash) via water.org’s partner network, government, and communities.

There is a limited-edition water bottle people can buy to help. What are the details?
You can order at http://gift.water.org. Ten dollars of every purchase (100% of the profits) supports water.org. I think it’s a great way to get people thinking about the issue and it’s a very tangible and easy way anyone can support our work. It comes in either stainless steel or plastic. It’s a great gift to get or to give around the holidays or anytime, really.
The most direct way to help someone in need of clean water today is to donate.

Are there any plans to highlight this crisis in some way in one of your upcoming films, or in a documentary?
We’ll see; I want to highlight this issue however I can.

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