Toxins in Tap Water: What You Should Know

Families Without Clean Water

Matt Damon in Ethiopia

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Millions of people around the world have no choice but to drink brown, filthy liquid virtually guaranteed to make them sick. That's why actor Matt Damon and entrepreneur Gary White formed, whose mission is to provide clean drinking water for everyone. Damon talked to Parents about his cause.

What shocks you most about the global water crisis? One in eight people don't have access to clean water. Diarrhea, caused by unsafe drinking water, is the second-leading cause of child death. These deaths are completely preventable with simple, affordable solutions that are readily available today.

What have you witnessed that disturbed you the most? I'll never forget my first visit with Gary to Tigray, in rural Ethiopia. I wish everyone had the opportunity to take a trip like that -- I think we could solve the water crisis in a year! In the community of Anaham, hundreds of people were gathered around a hand-dug well, which is shared by about 6,000 people. Some were standing inside the well, while others were throwing tin cans tied with ropes into the hole. The water they worked so hard to collect was clearly not safe to drink. I spoke with a group of students in school uniforms -- they had made a four-hour water journey before school. As the kids held up the plastic bottles of brown water to show me what they'd have to drink at school, I knew that some of them would probably be sick before the day was over. I can hardly bear to think of my own children being subjected to that.

How can people help? The most direct way is to donate. For just $25, can bring someone clean water for life. Learning more about the water crisis is another way to help. You have to know the problem exists before you want to do something about it. Tell others about the global water crisis and how they can help. If you're a parent or a teacher, we have lesson plans for elementary through high school [].

You can stay in the loop by joining's online conversation at and water. Or sign up to receive monthly updates at

Originally published in the April 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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