Matt Damon: Africa Trip Was Life-Changing
His 2006 exploration with his brother brought about awareness – and a fear of bugs
It was on his 2006, six-day “listening and learning trip” to Zambia with his sculptor-artist brother Kyle that caused Matt Damon to see “the world water crisis is one of the most important public health issues of our time,” PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive tells Conde Nast Traveler for its September issue.
Establishing the H2O Africa Foundation, Damon, 37, hopes the work he’s done will now inspire others to do the same. “I think many of our problems would be solved if people had thick passports,” he says. “There’s just no substitute for actually going and seeing things.”
When you’re a celebrity, he observes, “you start to feel a level of responsibility to direct attention to things that actually matter more than to silly things like who you’re dating.”
Case in point: “The world water crisis is one of the most important public health issues of our time. Clean water can help put people on the first run of the development ladder.”
Looking back on that 2006 trip, Kyle Damon tells CNTraveler the brothers were determined to downplay his screen-star sibling’s notoriety – and be keenly observant of their surroundings.
One thing they couldn’t overcome, however, was the region’s insect infestation. “We were outed as complete wusses” in the bug department, according to Kyle Damon.
Screaming out for their bodyguards, “it was hard to view ourselves as tough guys, cowering under the net and clutching our malaria meds,” he says.