Matt Damon just sent me an email and asked me to get the word out. Anything for you, Matt. I’ve pasted the whole email for you below. Disregard the part where he says “Dear ONE Member”….that’s our little inside joke. Calling me Rebecca would be way too formal for him. It all started the day that both of us decided to join the ONE.org Campaign to Make Poverty History. We were like, “You’re the ONE!” “No! You’re the ONE!”…and it just kind of stuck. He’s so crazy. Anyway, read on…
Dear ONE Member,
Right now, three human beings are attempting the impossible â€“ running 4,000 miles across the Sahara Desert to raise awareness for the 1.2 billion people around the world who donâ€™t have access to clean water. They will run 50 miles a day – for around 80 days – an amazing feat of human will and endurance.
Earlier this spring, my friends at the ONE Campaign and DATA brought me to Zambia and South Africa, where I witnessed extreme poverty and the role that clean drinking water plays in getting millions out of danger. I learned that a child dies every 15 seconds due to diseases from dirty water.
Upon my return, I wanted to do something.
Through some friends, I learned about three men who will undertake a quest so amazing and symbolic that it could do an immense amount of good for Africans in extreme poverty. In a bold expedition that has never been attempted – 3 men, from 3 nations will run from the Atlantic coast of Senegal, through Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Libya, to the Red Sea in Egypt.
My colleagues, including James Moll – a great filmmaker who won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 1999 – are documenting and promoting the expedition in our project called “Running the Sahara”. As part of this effort, we’ve started a charitable initiative called H2O Africa, in a large part to raise awareness for clean water programs on the continent.
One of the reasons I got involved in the project was because of the day I spent with a 14 year-old girl in Zambia earlier this year. I walked two miles with her to the closest water source, a well outside her village. I asked her if she wanted to stay in her village when she grew up, and her face exploded into a huge smile. The translator said to me, “She is being very shy…she says that she wants to move to big city – Lusaka – she wants to be a nurse.” And it was clear to me at that moment that if this well were not there for her, she would never even be able to entertain the concept of planning for the future – she would have been trying to survive just for that day.
This one well was giving hope to thousands of people in the surrounding area, and this hope translates into something concrete – that girl can now fulfill a dream to become a nurse, and can become an economic contributor to the Zambian economy.
Running the Sahara is happening NOW. These guys are there and they are going for it. And we want the world to sit up and take notice. These guys are my heroes, and I want to do whatever I can to support them and their mission.
Matt Damon, ONE Member
P.S. Stay tuned! Next week ONE is sending a small team to Mali to catch up with the runners. The team will upload video and blog reports about the progress of the expedition!