Virtual Village explores global drinking water crisis

You may not be able to travel to a developing country and see the global water crisis first hand, but now you can visit WaterPartners Village, a virtual exploration of the water crisis, launching across social networking sites on World Water Day, March 22. Second Life, a 3-D virtual world, allows people to see what life is like for Araja, Dahnay and Miguel, the fictional characters profiled in the village. The WaterPartners Village characters hail from India, Ethiopia and Honduras...

• WaterPartners Village launches, celebrates World Water Day with virtual concert

KANSAS CITY, March 20, 2008 -- You may not be able to travel to a developing country and see the global water crisis first hand, but now you can visit WaterPartners Village, a virtual exploration of the water crisis, launching across social networking sites, like Second Life, on World Water Day, March 22.

"The purpose of WaterPartners Village is to use a virtual world to break down barriers of space, time, language and culture," said Steve Byers, director of development and communication for WaterPartners. "Through characters and places that represent a composite of real-world experiences, visitors can better understand the daily reality faced by more than a billion of their fellow world citizens who do not have access to safe water."

Second Life, a 3-D virtual world, allows people to see what life is like for Araja, Dahnay and Miguel, the fictional characters profiled in the village. The WaterPartners Village characters hail from India, Ethiopia and Honduras to portray life experiences that differ dramatically from that of most Americans. These virtual villagers are not real people, but their stories are compiled from and reflect the experiences of people facing the daily struggle for clean drinking water and sanitation in the developing world.

Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-borne disease. WaterPartners, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, works with communities around the world to bring safe water to those in need. The WaterPartners Village is part of its mission to educate the public about the more than one billion people who lack access to safe water.

To visit the virtual village, see: www.water.org/waterpartnersvillage

The WaterPartners Village launch on World Water Day includes presences in Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. Outside of the virtual realm, WaterPartners is making a real-world difference in people's lives and shares that information through project profiles and success stories on their website at www.water.org.

To celebrate World Water Day, WaterPartners Village is hosting a live virtual music festival featuring the most popular performers in Second Life, as well as free hot-air balloon rides to tour the scenic landscape of the virtual village. The WaterPartners villagers will blog about their journey to obtain safe drinking water and sanitation for themselves and their families, beginning on World Water Day and continuing through summer 2008.

WaterPartners is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that provides safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.

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