U.S. Water News Online
UNITED NATIONS -- In a new documentary, Jay-Z is reminded
of his early life in the Brooklyn projects as he sees children
playing near open sewers in an Angolan slum.
"In my business, we like to say we're from the hood," said the
36-year-old rap superstar, settling in a car to leave the shantytown.
"We're not in the hood. By no means. Not even close."
"The Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life" was shown recently at U.N.
headquarters. It airs Nov. 24 on MTV.
The film is part of the rapper's partnership with the United
Nations and MTV to get young people involved in the world's water
"I was looking for a cause to attach myself to," Jay-Z told the
audience packed in the U.N. Trusteeship Council chamber. He decided
on water "because it's the most basic need."
MTV film crews followed Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter,
while he visited children living without clean water in Angola and
South Africa during his worldwide tour this fall.
The documentary mixes their stories with statistics that 1.1
billion people have no access to clean drinking water, and more than
4,000 children die every day from diseases related to the problem.
In Angola, Jay-Z helped a schoolgirl lug a 20-liter container of
water to the one-room shack she shares with six family members. The
family has to pay a neighbor who has running water to fill the
container twice a day. They make do with that even though the average
person needs at least 20 liters a day for basic needs.
"It has to be the size of a jail cell," Jay-Z says of the shack.
"You have to think about the shame of having to go knock on a
neighbor's door just to go to the bathroom."
He then followed the girl, Bela, to school past open sewers, and
watched teenagers retrieve a basketball from black water, rubbing it
off before resuming their game.
"You can't even take a deep breath," he said of the smell.
A visit to a rural village in South Africa was more uplifting.
Jay-Z donated a "play pump" that spared children a grueling trip to a
water hole. The devices are a sort of merry-go-round that pump water
from a well into a storage tank.
"So many people that I've seen can't get clean water. It's a
crime," he says at the end of the documentary. "I'm on a mission, and
I will not forget."
Jay-Z, who recently came out of "retirement" to record his new CD,
"Kingdom Come," told the audience he would donate the proceeds from
an upcoming concert in New York to Water for Life, the U.N.
initiative dedicated to meeting a U.N. goal of reducing by half the
number of people without safe drinking water by 2015.
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