How Matt Damon Helps Provide Clean Water for Millions of People
Words by Alex Merrill
Several years ago, I spent a few months traveling throughout India with a group of friends. We spent time in both urban areas and remote villages, but I loved the villages the most. I’d never seen such tenacity among a group of people. In one village, I met a woman who was so radiant and beautiful, so full of joy and passion, that I couldn’t help but be drawn to her. Our conversation revealed that her husband had passed away a few years prior and that her children had started working to support the family. They spent the day helping local farmers or selling what they could at markets, while she spent the majority of her day bringing water to the house for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. She had spent the entire day prior to our visit bringing enough water so we could have tea.
Have you ever stopped to imagine what this woman’s day would be like? Think about the hours—not minutes—it would take to bathe, to cook, to simply drink a glass of water. Imagine how physically exhausted you would be after such an endeavor, how sparingly you would use that water, knowing you will have to make the trek all over again.
I asked her about her dreams—what she imagined herself doing if she had the opportunity. She seemed hesitant to share at first, as if speaking her heart might make the possibility disappear altogether. Then she said she would love to teach. She explained that since so many children in her village had to work to help their families, she would love to give them a place to learn—to provide them with more options for their futures.
Now, I’m sure we all know Belgian beer company Stella Artois (I mean, what’s a good party without them?), but perhaps you’re new to Water.org. This incredible non-profit was founded 25 years ago by Gary White and Matt Damon with the mission to provide access to clean water and sanitation around the world. As they see it, “Access to safe water can protect and save lives, just because it’s there. Access to safe water has the power to turn time spent into time saved, when it’s close and not hours away. Access to safe water can turn problems into potential: unlocking education, economic prosperity, and improved health.” At its core, Water.org believes that water makes it possible for every human being to define her own future. “On three continents around the world we’ve seen how empowering people does more than create access to safe water; it gives women hope, children health, and communities a future,” says Water.org.
In 2014, Stella Artois felt compelled to join forces with Water.org to contribute to solving the global water crisis on the largest scale possible. And they’re seeing their vision come to life through their joint campaign “Buy a Lady a Drink.” Now in its fourth year, the campaign was developed by Stella and Water.org to help end the global water crisis by bringing Stella lovers together with those deeply affected by the lack of access to clean water. Their passion for seeing a better future for these communities is evident in their approach as they invite consumers to be a part of the solution. Stella Artois is keenly aware that its goals for seeing an end to the water crisis will require a devoted global effort, so it focuses on growing national and global awareness of the issue. And to take it a step further, it also teams up with artists from various countries it intends to impact with access to clean water.
They allow women, such as the one I met in India, to pursue their passions and invest in the betterment of their own communities. They open the door to opportunities that multiply—creating a ripple effect of goodness that goes beyond a single household to engulf an entire community in hope.
Imagine what it’s like to not have access to clean water–and then to suddenly have it.
How You Can Help
To partner with Stella Artois and Water.org in their mission to see an end to the water crisis, supporters can purchase a limited edition chalice with a unique design representing countries where Water.org provides support. The designs and countries featured change each year, giving an equal voice to those affected and illustrating how far reaching the problem truly is. This year’s chalices feature unique designs created by Silvana Avila from Mexico, Janine Shroff from India, and Monica Ramos from the Philippines. Each design reflects the artist’s experience and artistic interpretation of the global water crisis in her own community.
Through “Buy a Lady a Drink,” Stella Artois has helped provide access to five years of clean water to more than one million people in the developing world. “Water.org is continually scaling and evolving our model to help end the global water crisis,” said Gary White. “We recently celebrated empowering 10 million people with access to safe water and sanitation. Our partnership with Stella Artois helped us achieve this important milestone, and it will continue to advance Water.org’s goal of reaching 60 million people by 2022.”
Stella Artois has its own goal of helping provide long-term, sustainable access to clean water to at least 3.5 million people by 2020—a goal that will be made possible only by continuing to raise awareness and inviting others to participate in its incredible vision. By leveraging a global platform, Stella Artois is helping Water.org seek sustainable financial solutions that empower people without access to the water and sanitation they desperately need—to achieve, to dream.
To learn more about “Buy a Lady a Drink” and claim your own chalice, visit water.org/stellaartois