Matt Damon is becoming almost as well known for his charitable work as he is for his on-screen success. The Bourne Ultimatum star, who is actively involved with Water.org and the ONE campagin, tells Parade magazine how his mom taught him to give back as a kid – and how he hopes to pass the same lesson on to his daughters Isabella, 3, Gia, 1, and stepdaughter Alexia, 11.
“When I was a boy, my mom had a magnet on the refrigerator with a little picture of Gandhi along with a quote from him. It said, ‘No matter how insignificant what you do may seem, it is important that you do it,’” Matt recalls. “As a child, I was raised to believe that, and to this day I do my best to live it.”
Long before he was making big bucks at the box office, Matt says he was giving what he could to the causes that mattered to him.
“I got an allowance of $5 a week when I was a kid, but I never spent much money on anything. My mother was involved in all sorts of causes, and when I was about 12, I started sending a little bit every month to one of them. I learned then that you find one thing that matters to you, and it changes your whole mind-set.”
Using some startling statistics, the Oscar-winner reveals what causes matter most to him right now: “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.”
Having traveled extensively in recent years to Africa, Haiti and elsewhere to meet people most affected by these issues, Matt says it’s been a “powerful” experience that he plans on one day sharing with his family.
“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. In the future, I know these trips are something we’ll do as a family…. I can’t think of any more important value to instill in our children than the desire to help others. I feel strongly about setting an example for them.”