Return to Transcripts main page

CNN'S AMANPOUR

Matt Damon's Clean Water Mission; Why Matt Damon Is Helping Give Access to Water In Indonesia, Gustavo Dudamel On Venezuela And The Power of Music. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 22, 2018 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:00:32] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Coming up, we are looking back at some of our favorite interviews this year.

In this edition, the megastar, Matt Damon, on a surprising location, Indonesia. He's not shooting a movie but he's trying to solve the global

clean water crisis. And he join me with the cofounder of Water.org, Gary White. Plus, music is the food of love. My conversation with Venezuela's

prodigy and the superstar conductor at the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Listen to this shocking statistic. As many as 100 million people in India won't have adequate access to ground water in just two years' time. That

shocker comes from a recent government sponsored study and it is just one side of a growing global crisis.

In Iran, protests have recently broken out over water shortages. In Argentina, a drought have caused the economy to shrink for the first time

in more than a year. In South Africa, a severe water shortage has led to rationing in the Pinerest (ph) city of Cape Town. One of the efforts to

tackle this crisis comes from an unlikely source, the Hollywood megastar Matt Damon. He's been dedicated to this vital matter since 2009, working

with the long-time water policy pioneer, Gary White. And together, they started Water.org.

It is no charity as Damon and White explain from Jakarta in Indonesia where much of their efforts are concentrated now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Matt Damon and Gary White, welcome to the program.

GARY WHITE, CEO, CO-FOUNDER, WATER.ORG: Thank you.

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, we're reaching you all the way over in Jakarta, in Indonesia. Matt, just start out by telling me what a Hollywood mega star

is doing on location with water in Jakarta?

DAMON: Well, we're here checking up on some of our programs. And actually, when you talk to us about our work in 2011, I think it was,

actually, we were at about -- I think we've reached -- we haven't reached our first million people at that point in New York when we sat down and

talked. And as of last month, we're 12.5 million people that we've reached. And oddly enough, at that same event that you came to New York

where we all sat down and talked, we got a check that night from the Caterpillar Foundation to expand our work into Indonesia, and so it's kind

of wonderfully ironic that we're talking to you from there as we talk about this again and revisit this 6.5 years later.

AMANPOUR: So, listen, it's great to hear some good news --

DAMON: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: -- and that progress is being made. Just sum up for me what you're trying to do. You're reaching 12.5 million people, Matt, what is it

that you're trying to do?

DAMON: Well, what we've been trying to do for the last decade or so is a model that involves loaning, giving small loans to people who are living in

poverty. And Gary had this incredible insight from having done this for 30 years and he had this hypothesis that living in this -- being in these

communities, he knew people were paying for water and he speculated that if we could just get people access to a microloan to connect to an existing

infrastructure, they could actually pay that loan back and buy their time back essentially. So rather than have to spend all this time collecting

water away from perhaps a paying job, they could actually have a water connection directly to their house.

And what actually came to pass was it is kind of -- it's something better that we even could have hoped, these loans pay off at more 99 percent and

it's just really a success story.

AMANPOUR: So, Gary, these microloans, we've heard a lot about microcredit really since the early days of Muhammad Yunus in the Grameen Bank. Is it

like that, so that you're not giving charity, you're encouraging sort of investment, in a way equity?

WHITE: That's it exactly. The challenge was microfinance was it wasn't making these loans for water and sanitation. It would make a loan for

somebody to start a business, but they wouldn't -- the microfinance institutions would not lend for water and toilet construction. And so,

what we did was kind of gave them a nudge and kind of de-risked it for them.

So we said, "We'll cover your cost to start up these types of loans and if you find the market, then you can go to scale with this." And that's

exactly what's happened. We have about 90 partners around the world now that are delivering these microloans to people in need of water and

sanitation. More than 90 percent of them are women and they pay back at this 99 percent rate.

And I think one way to really drive it home was a woman who I met in Manila not long ago and she was going to water vendors and sending her kids to

these water vendors to buy their water and carry it back home. They are paying about $60 each month for that water. She got a small loan, she got

connected to the water utility, so she couldn't afford the $200 cost to connect to the utility, but once she got the loan, she could do that. And

her loan payments and her water bill now are only $10 a month.

So you can see right there, there's another $50 in her pocket every month to pay for her kids to go to school, pay for the medicines that they need

and the kids aren't spending this time, so they can be in school learning instead of continuing on the cycle of poverty.

AMANPOUR: According to the U.N., 27 million Indonesians lack access to safe drinking water. So just explain, both of you, how you internalize

that, how you observe that affecting the everyday man, woman and child?

WHITE: So we just saw it first hand, right? We saw the villages that we're in where people, before they were able to get access to these loans, they

were spending hours every day trying to secure their water.

DAMON: Yes. And there are some situations that are even more dire than that where girls aren't in school because their job for the family is to

collect the water. And so, they're completely robbed of -- you know, I mean, leaving aside the fact that a million children die a year totally

unnecessarily because of lack of access to safe water and sanitation. You've got this whole other swat of millions upon millions of girls whose

lives are just kind of stamped out, they're just not allowed to live to their full potential because their daily grind is just finding the water

for their family.

And -- I mean, we just went to this school here in Indonesia and there were 150 girls there and we had the best afternoon with them and talking to them

and you just see, you know, how their lives have transformed. And so, when you see that kind of transformational effect that getting this access has,

it really does -- it just really lights the fire under us to kind of keep this going and to get out and to try to talk about this and the success

that this model has because the World Bank has identified 500 million people around the world who could be reached with this model.

I mean, that is a real chunk of the problem right there that can be fixed if we can get the capital in to the right places.

AMANPOUR: And I wonder what you both think about the -- when we introduced this segment, we talked about protest in Iran over water. We talked about

chronic drought in Afghanistan that could get worst. We talked about Cape Town, South Africa where people are lining up in this tourist city just to

get water.

The environment, in the United States, you see the EPA, there are big crises with protections for clean water being rolled back under the current

administration. And there are those who believe that the water crisis could be the progenitor even more for conflict and war and the like. I

wonder your reflections on the bigger issue of water.

DAMON: As you say, this is a massive kind of geopolitical issue. But the poorest of the poor are always affected the most by these things. And so,

if you imagine, you know, if you extrapolate that out to the -- you know, the next 20, the next 40 years, I mean, what does that look like for them

if this kind of dystopia you're talking about comes to be? So I think that's my kind of first takeaway from your question, yes.

AMANPOUR: And then Gary?

WHITE: Most of the world that's going to be facing that type of issue is going to have the resources to deal with it and that's going to happen. It

won't be easy, but it will happen. But what we look like is, you know, we had conversations with Dr. Jim Kim at the World Bank and he's like saying,

you know, we have a really hard time finding how to reach those last 10 to 15 percent of the poor. And that's why we're working with the bank and the

IFC to bring these types of solutions that help us get to some of the poorest people.

AMANPOUR: So it is really important. I just want to ask a Hollywood question to you, Matt, because you are the face of this and you're able to

bring so much to it, to Gary's work. And obviously, you know, the whole Me Too women's empowerment started with Hollywood to an extent. And

obviously, your career took off with support from Harvey Weinstein.

I just wonder, in the six or so months, eight months since all of this broke, how do you think Hollywood is coping, reacting and stepping up when

it comes to women's rights and equal treatment under, you know, fair play in Hollywood?

DAMON: Yes. I mean, yes, I am all for women's empowerment, you know, in Hollywood and at the village of (INAUDIBLE) in Indonesia, that's a big part

of this work that we do. You know, I mean, I've certainly learned that, you know, just because somebody asked me a question and gives me a

microphone, it doesn't mean that it's my turn to talk. And so, I've been trying to listen a lot and I support those movements and think they're

doing wonderful things.

But in terms of -- you know, this is what, if we talk about our work at Water.org, like that is something that I do want to talk about and I'm

deeply -- you know, I -- we've been doing this for -- I mean, I've been doing it for over a decade and he's been doing it for over three, and it's

a really -- and it's great story because it's about women who really have less than we could imagine in the west, who are doing this really amazing

and heroic things.

AMANPOUR: What was it that caused you all the way over in Hollywood to be energized by this water crisis? What is it that made you think this was

where you wanted to put your philanthropy and your sort of social entrepreneurship?

DAMON: You know, we solve this in the west a hundred years ago. Imagine if we cured cancer tomorrow and in a hundred years, people were still dying

by the millions of this thing that was totally preventable. And so, I think that's what gets us energized and then also the success that we're

having.

WHITE: I think what I take heart from is like, the poor are the root of the solution. This problem contains its own solution. If we can just

nudge the system a little bit so people can get access to these affordable loans, then that can be the first step in lifting themselves out of

poverty.

AMANPOUR: And I think that's a really important message for this time particularly when people seem not to want to deal with the poor and resent

charity. So I think this is a really good message. And I'm glad I've been on this journey at least for the last several years with you.

Thank you so much for joining us from Jakarta.

WHITE: Thank you.

DAMON: Thank you. Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So, in a world of turmoil, music can often be a welcome relief from politics, an antidote, if you like. This is the core belief of my

guest. The classical music's reigning maestro, Gustavo Dudamel. Leader of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and selling out concerts halls

around the world.

Duhamel is the product of the incredible development called El Sistema, Venezuela's orchestra program for disadvantaged youths. For years he

walked a fine line refusing to get political about Venezuela's increasingly authoritarian regime which funds El Sistema.

But recently, with mass protests, deaths and Venezuelans on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe, he has said that enough is enough. And I sat

down with him in during a break in rehearsals here in London to discuss politics, prodigies and redemptive power of music.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Gustavo Dudamel, welcome to our program.

DUDAMEL, VENEZUELAN CONDUCTOR: Thank you very much, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: I just want to start at the beginning, both of your parents are musical.

DUDAMEL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And you, that was part of your DNA growing up?

DUDAMEL: Yes, yes. I think, you know, listening Latin music at home was my -- the genesis of my love to the music. I was listening mostly salsa.

AMANPOUR: Mostly salsa?

DUDAMEL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

DUDAMEL: Because my father play in a salsa band and my mother was signing at the choir. So, I have that kind of combination.

AMANPOUR: And I heard, I read that actually -- you actually used to line up your toys and pretend-conduct.

DUDAMEL: Yes, it was a very good orchestra.

AMANPOUR: It didn't answer back?

DUDAMEL: No, no. And it was such a serious and fun game for me because I took -- I put my orchestra, I put their recordings and I was stopping,

rehearsing and I did my concerts for the family. So, it was serious. It was very --

AMANPOUR: Practicing with your toys?

DUDAMEL: Practicing with my toys.

AMANPOUR: All lined up?

DUDAMEL: All lined up. A beautiful orchestra. I was playing with my toys. I was playing baseball. I was playing soccer. I was doing -- I was

swimming. I did everything. I was doing karate. And at the same time, I had the music.

But music was something very important for me. I remember telling my grandmother one day, I was in a karate class and I said, "Grandma, I want

to do music, this is what I want to do. I have done everything until now. I want to do music." And then, immediately, I became conductor of the

youth orchestra of my town. I was 11 years old. And that was a big -- you know, a big position. It was a position desired by -- you know, by

conductors.

And 11 years old comes, you know, to assist the conductor, the director, and it was perfect because everything have been, you know, developing in a

very natural way. So, that is why I don't see the dimension of this. I don't see, you know, if, you know, I'm famous or I'm important for this,

it's what I have been doing since I was 11 years old. So, it's very natural.

AMANPOUR: So, then, describe how you came up through the system? Literally El Sistema, which is a state-funded -- obviously, Venezuelan

state-funded orchestra for disadvantaged children.

DUDAMEL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And the maestro, Mastero Abreu, who recently died, created something unique.

DUDAMEL: Unique.

AMANPOUR: What did it do for you?

DUDAMEL: Well, everything. Everything. You know, I started in El Sistema because my father was founder of a Sistema in our town in Barquisimeto. He

was one of the first musicians, young musicians that play in the orchestra.

And El Sistema is a family, you know. It's this kind of educational system where you enjoy, you go, you have a discipline, but it's the discipline of

joy, and you are creating, you are touching beauty.

I cannot see myself right now being an individual conducting even if it looks very individual because you are on the podium and it looks like you

are the boss. But, no, I grew up with my players, with my friends playing music and having fun doing that because that is the truth. And that is why

the connection that I have with orchestras is so natural because I understand what they think. But also, I -- we spar each other. And that

is what is the Sistema about.

When you go to out to a place where, you know -- with problems, it can be wherever, in my case, in Venezuela, it saved my life, you know.

AMANPOUR: What is the philosophy behind it? Is it to raise the kids up? Is it to make them musicians for life? Is it to give them the idea of

belonging, family? What is the philosophy behind El Sistema?

DUDAMEL: It's access to beauty, you know. Imagine classical music is very elitist, let's say, in a way, y you know.

AMANPOUR: It's very elitist, yes.

DUDAMEL: Art. But what Maestro Abreu for? You know, this have to part of the evolution of a child. It has to be part of their life as normal as it

is to eat or to go to the school or to breathe.

So, when you go to the orchestra, you have the chance to grow up, to get it with other children, creating beauty, having access to that. And you

cannot imagine how powerful it is because it's more than a language, it's more than telling something, playing Beethoven 5, playing the first notes,

pom, pom, pom, pom. Nobody was telling us how to do that. Only we were recreating or creating that moment. And that is the power of music.

Sometimes you don't you don't have to say anything, you only play and the message is there. So --

AMANPOUR: You just mentioned your country and it's been through many ups and downs. It's in a serious down right now. There is so much political

upheaval. People have been killed. There are protests. There is a lack of food, electricity, water, medicine, everything.

And, in fact, in one of the recent protests, somebody who had come up through the El Sistema process was killed.

DUDAMEL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What did that mean to you? Was that a bit of a turning point?

DUDAMEL: Look, it is very difficult always to talk about politics, especially in my country, because it's so polarized that sometimes when you

bring that to the table, even in a family, it gets really difficult. And yes, violence is unacceptable.

That is something that, for me, growing up as I'm telling you in an environment that create beauty for me is not possible that outside on the

streets is happening the opposite, if -- even if El Sistema is a symbol of the country, and have become a symbol of the world, because the El Sistema

is all around the world.

So, yes, it touched my life because, you know, I'm a father now and you know how painful is -- or how beautiful, at the same time, is to have your

child, to take care of him and then suddenly he gets killed, you know.

The first contact that I have with the family was very -- it was -- I don't know, it was very difficult. It was very difficult. But at the same time,

it was a moment to say, "Look, it's enough, it's enough, this fight. This is not taking us to anywhere."

AMANPOUR: I mean, you were very clear in the beginning because clearly Chavismo, the Chavistas, Hugo Chavez promoted El Sistema and it did a lot

of good for the people who came up through it. And your position was that I don't need to be political. I work through my music, my music talks for

itself.

Now, you've become more political because of the death and the violence. And it's rebounded on you. I mean, Maduro has cancelled some of your

international tours and trips. You haven't been back for a long time. How does that affect you and the music and your relationship with Venezuelan

musicians?

DUDAMEL: My relation with the musicians is still the same. I -- last Saturday and tomorrow, I would have -- I had a rehearsal with them through

FaceTime. And, yes, for two hours, we were working with the national children, the National Youth Orchestra.

And tomorrow, we will have another one with the National Choir and the National Youth Orchestra. I keep and I have meetings every week, you know,

with the people working there. So, my connection is still the same.

AMANPOUR: But that's incredible. So, you are conducting the L.A. Philharmonic. You are touring and you are still training the musicians

through FaceTime because you can't get back to Venezuela.

DUDAMEL: Because that is my life. El Sistema is my life, you know. I have -- I made that commitment since the beginning, from the beginning I

started in El Sistema.

And when I did the statement about all of the situation, it was as a citizen. I have the right to say what I think, not being political.

Talking to politicians, yes; but being political, no. And I didn't want to get in a fight. I was only making my opinion.

And, you know, I have the freedom to do that, you know, that's it. And I said what I thought, what I think. And I think that the situation is

unsustainable. But I think also, that the main key to get out of the situation to unite the people. You know, that is my goal. If you ask me

what to do, what you will do to do something, to help, you know, we have to build bridges because, you know, people keep building borders between us

all the time, all the time.

AMANPOUR: Well, you're right in the middle of a major border wall, you know, fight in the United States. So, how do you build your bridges when

there's so much wall building?

DUDAMEL: Well, we have this beautiful project inspired by El Sistema that is YOLA, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles. Where more of the children they are

Latinos, you know.

AMANPOUR: America --

DUDAMEL: Americans, yes, living in Los Angeles, in these disadvantaged areas. And it's very successful. But at the same time -- I will give you

an example. We started our season with a festival called CDMX, Celebrating Mexico.

So, what we did is celebrate Mexico. We invite pop singers like (INAUDIBLE), Natalia Lafourcade, Alejandro Gonzalez, (INAUDIBLE), Night of

Film (ph). So, we have (INAUDIBLE) from Mexico. So, it was our way to say, "No. It doesn't these borders."

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you a final question then, because you've talked about soul, family, beauty, but there's something else that a lot of people

are talking about as well, that music, perhaps more than any other art form, is really restorative for mental health issues, for all sorts of

issues. Do you agree with that? And why do you think that is?

DUDAMEL: Well, music has that power. Is this invisible beauty? Is this - - its sound, you cannot see the music, you see the musicians play, but you don't see the music, this vibration, this energy. And that harmony creates

something.

You know, I'm the most privileged guy in the world because I do music, but when I see another that doesn't have, you know, that same abilities, let's

say, or the same circumstance -- not ability, circumstance, he developed better abilities to be a musician, and that is the most beautiful thing.

You know, when music encourages people to be better, and that is what the El Sistema does.

You know, as a citizen, as a member of an orchestra and as a member of this world that we live, you know, we make this because we want to share beauty

with the people and we believe in the power of the music, you know.

AMANPOUR: Well, Gustavo Dudamel, thank you for bringing the joy.

DUDAMEL: Thank you, Christiane. An honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And on that note, we end our program tonight. Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END