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Daryl Hannah supports World Water day
22 March 2006

March 2006

Hollywood movie star Daryl Hannah was guest of honour at a ceremony to open a new water cistern in Rwanda on World Water Day in March.

Children at the 1,500-pupil Gitaraga primary school at the edge of the Virunga National Park are the latest beneficiaries of a programme run by the Gorilla Organization (GO) that aims to reduce encroachment in the gorilla habitat by providing fresh water in
nearby schools.

Paradoxical as it may seem in a place where the rainfall averages 110–200mm per month, finding readily available sources of fresh water is a constant challenge as well as a major cause of encroachment.

The cistern at Gitaraga, the 28th built by the GO and its local partner ARASI, will provide enough fresh water to reduce the risk.

Traditionally, it is the children who collect water for their families each morning before school. But while they are supposed to take their jerry cans to the nearby lake it is often easier and more fun to hop over the wall to collect the water from the abundant streams in the park.

The high incidence of tuberculosis, scabies and other diseases mean the children inadvertently bring the risk of disease to the gorillas, with potentially
devastating consequences.

“The children also take great risks themselves,” says a teacher at Gitaraga. “The volcanic rock pools in the park can be slippery and dangerous and we regularly have to treat pupils for injuries from falling.”

Partially funded by Yahoo and Richard Bangs Adventures, the Gitaraga cistern is the first one to be built from local stone rather than bricks, making it both attractive as well as environmentally appropriate.

While the ceremony was marked with speeches by the regional Governor and the head of the country’s wildlife and tourism department, the children danced and sang for the dignitaries until late in the afternoon.

Daryl Hannah, a veteran wildlife supporter who adored seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat, has pledged her support by becoming a patron of the GO and has written an appeal to help raise money for the gorillas’ protection.

Picture shows: Daryl Hannah opening the Gitaraga primary school’s new water cistern near the gorilla habitat in Rwanda

Find out more, see videos and pictures (click)
for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123
david@gorillas.org
www.gorillas.org