Like most parents (OK, make that all parents), Matt Damon tries to teach his four daughters to appreciate what they have. And to express gratitude for their good fortune in life. He and his wife Lucy haven't found the magic formula yet.
“My kids are growing up with so much more privilege than I had. And I don’t think — I’m not sure how to get that across," the Oscar winner told TODAY Parents. "In terms of awareness of the environment, they do get a lot of that in school. That’s in the consciousness of the generations coming behind us.”
Damon, who co-founded water.org in 2009, is hands-on about giving back. The mission of the charity, which has a four-star rating from independent evaluator Charity Navigator, is to provide sanitation and clean H20 to nations that need it. World Water Day, which takes place on March 22, is like his aquatic Super Bowl. The organization has partnered with Stella Artois on a series of limited edition chalices; if you buy one, the proceeds help provide five years of clean water.
He's so fulfilled with the organization's mission that he dismisses the idea of running for public office one day.
“No. I feel like I can have a big impact this way. And that I am. I want to keep doing this,” he said.
He’s also committed to having his daughters “understand their place in the world. It’s through travel, I think. It’s the best gift I can give them, so they can get a sense of how different people are living. It’s very hard to get a kid to go outside their own experience. I haven’t figured out a way to do that successfully.”
He recently took his eldest, Alexia, to see the townships in South Africa.
“I remember talking to Don Cheadle years ago when he was doing ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and he took his kids to the townships. And I asked him what he said. And he said, ‘Nothing. Let them just experience it.’ And that’s very much what I was thinking when we were there. You can’t embroider that with any language,” said Damon. “My 11-year-old is ready. It’s just great for them to get an understanding of what life can look like for other people.”
As for the future, Damon, who lost his dad in December to multiple myeloma, is going to play things by ear.
“I took all of last year off to be with my dad. It didn’t feel like time off. I might just take another year and regroup. I don’t know what’s next, is the truth. Not working, for me; I’ll still be so busy with the kids and water.org that I’ll be occupied," he said. "I don’t want to sit and stew. But I don’t think I’ll have a lot of idle time. I think there’s a big recalibration.”