APOPO's mission is to develop detection rats technology to provide solutions for global problems and inspire positive social change. APOPO's vision is to solve pressing humanitarian challenges with detection rats technology. Our core values are: Quality - Demonstrating and promoting high standards in research, design, training and implementation of detection rats technology. Social Transformation - Developing skills, creating jobs, improving socio-economic and environmental conditions, releasing land for development, and combating public health issues. Innovation - Pioneering creative research and innovative solutions within a participatory learning culture. Diversity - Embracing diversity...
Jun 15, 2011

HeroRAT Newsletter - May 2011

Give a rat. Help save lives.

Looking for a unique gift for your dad this Father’s Day? Support our HeroRAT project on GlobalGiving, or give a rat and help save lives!

Make your contribution in honor of your father, and watch as his face lights up when he realizes that together, you've helped provide banana treats for one of our life-saving, bomb-sniffing heroes in Mozambique, or tuberculosis screening for villagers in Tanzania.

Alternatively, you can surprise your father and Adopt-a-Rat as a gift for him. Not only will he receive an adoption certificate and updates on the life-saving work of his expertly trained rat, but he will also have the satisfaction of knowing he raised his child to care about the well-being of those around the world.

Through your support, our HeroRATs will be able to continue saving people from becoming landmine victims and reducing the spread of tuberculosis. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

For more reasons on why to give a rat, take a look at the Support HeroRATs section of our website or read Nick Kristof’s Father’s Day article from last year in the New York Times, "Dad will really like this".

Make a donation in your Dad's honor to the HeroRAT project on GlobalGiving or click here to give a HeroRAT adoption today!


Tuberculosis program sniffing successes

In Tanzania, our HeroRAT team at the Tuberculosis (TB) detection center has been busy sniffing away to save lives.  In the first three months of 2011, we have already found 91 TB-positive patients, bringing our total to over 2,000 patients that were initially missed by microscopy at local hospitals.

As a result of these tireless efforts, more patients can begin their life-saving treatment sooner, thus significantly reducing the spread of TB.  In fact, using projections from the World Health Organization, we have helped to prevent at least 20,000 new cases of TB to date!  In a country where about half of all active TB cases go undetected, these findings make a huge difference in reducing the spread of this deadly disease.


20 new HeroRATs embark on their first mine-sniffing mission

On May 18th we said farewell to 20 new graduates of our HeroRAT landmine detection training program, who embarked on their first life-saving mission in the Gaza Province of Mozambique.  There was a flurry of activity at APOPO’s headquarters in Tanzania on the morning of departure: making transport arrangements, providing in-flight entertainment (peanuts in a small container, just waiting to drop down!) and settling the rats into their first-class transport cages.

Before they left us, our future heroes feasted on tomato, apples, peanuts and small fish, along with plenty of water.  We then proudly waved them off on the first leg (or paw) of their journey to Dar es Salaam to meet the connecting flight to Maputo, Mozambique.  The rats were accompanied by some of their human colleagues, to make sure they arrived at the airport in peak condition and ready for their new adventure: saving lives!  We wish the new graduates well in their work in the real minefields, and trust our Mozambique Mine Action team will take good care of them as they settle into their new homes. 

UK reception for ASHOKA Fellow Bart Weetjens

ASHOKA UK hosted a reception in London for our founder and ASHOKA Fellow, Bart Weetjens, on May 11th.  Although none of our four-legged heroes could be present for the event (they were busy saving lives), Bart represented them well, sharing his experiences with an intimate audience of dedicated HeroRAT supporters and members of ASHOKA’s network.

ASHOKA’s Communications Director, Julie Whittaker, noted, “Bart captivated his packed audience about his work with HeroRATS and their contribution in clearing mines and detecting TB.  His enthusiasm left many of the audience inspired to offer help to ASHOKA or directly to HeroRATs.”

Dr Sima Barmania was among those who attended the reception, and followed up with a blog post, ‘HeroRATs – No Ordinary Rat’, on The Independent's website. She wrote: “Quite sheepishly, I admit that until recently the triumph of the HeroRAT had managed to escape my attention. I suspect my lack of knowledge of these furry labourers was partly due to my self-confessed rat prejudice.”

It’s a common perception, held by many who stumble across APOPO’s work for the first time, before they learn the facts behind the fiction (and discover that our rats are in fact lovely and sociable creatures!)  Bart’s talk aimed to challenge these preconceptions about rats, inviting the audience to look beyond the surface to the social problems that exist which his “heroes” are helping to solve.

And as Dr Sima Barmania’s blog post concludes, it appears at least some perceptions were changed: “Given the affection Bart has for his workers, it is hard to not find the HeroRAT endearing; admittedly, it may be a while before I can have a face to face interaction with a rodent but perhaps I could be convinced to adopt a HeroRAT.”

The APOPO team wishes to thank Jenny Prosser and the team at ASHOKA UK for organizing the night, which was a fantastic opportunity for people to hear first-hand the story of how our HeroRATs came into being. 


Hot off the presses: APOPO's 2010 Annual Report
If you are interested in what APOPO accomplished in 2010, curious about how far we have come, or wondering what the future might hold for detection rats technology – download your copy of APOPO’s 2010 Annual Report!


Jun 13, 2011

Get your Dad's Day gift this GG Bonus Day help HeroRATs even more!

Get your Dad's Day gift this GG Bonus Day – June 15, 2011

Get your Father's Day shopping done early and help APOPO and our HeroRATs!  Make your donation in your dad's honor on June 15th  and your online donations to the HeroRAT project will be matched by GlobalGiving at 30%.  That’s more bananas for your buck! 

In the words of Nicholas D. Kristof in his Father's Day article last year "Dad will really like this", in the New York Times,  "What man wouldn’t pass up a necktie for the chance to be associated with an educated, supermacho giant rat?" 

These extra funds mean...

  • More young HeroRATs can be trained to sniff out global problems.
  • More landmines can be removed
  • More tuberculosis patients can be diagnosed.
  • More lives and limbs will be saved!

Once the $75,000 that GlobalGiving has set aside for this event has run out, GlobalGiving will also give a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives the most donations and another $1,000 bonus will go to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors.

So make your contribution count even more on Wednesday, June 15th, and donate at: www.globalgiving.org/projects/herorats/.

Thank you very much for your support!  We truly value your friendship.

Warm regards,

The HeroRAT team




May 4, 2011

HeroRAT Newsletter - March/April 2011

Two of APOPO
Two of APOPO's Heroes: Shaibu and a HeroRAT
Mozambique Mine Action results in 2011

APOPO and the HeroRAT team in Mozambique are off to a great start for 2011! So far, we’ve cleared over 239,859 square meters of land. In doing so, we’ve found and destroyed: 282 landmines, 78 unexploded ordnances, and 1,763 small arms and ammunitions. That’s a lot of TNT! 

We’re not stopping there either. Moving forward with our clearance plan for 2011, APOPO estimates completion of all the remaining known minefields in the Gaza Province this year – well ahead of Mozambique’s Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention deadline in 2014.

From 2012 onwards, our Mozambique team will be re-assigned to assist with mine action operations in other contaminated provinces. APOPO has shown commitment to the National Clearance Plan and is well-positioned to continue its unique and effective clearance system, helping Mozambique reach its goal of being a mine-free country by 2014.

APOPO-PRO project gets started in Thailand

APOPO has made significant progress in setting up our Thailand Mine Action Program, with the support of the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC). In 2010, TMAC requested APOPO to conduct a combined non-technical and technical survey of all mine suspected areas in the provinces of Trat and Chantaburi along the Thai-Cambodian border. Preparations for the project started in October 2010, and APOPO is excited to report that the survey will be conducted in partnership with a local NGO in Thailand, Peace Road Organisation (PRO).
APOPO’s Head of Operations, Håvard Bach, and Thailand Project Manager, Kjersti Tokle Fjellhaug, are now working together with TMAC to produce training courses and Standard Operating Procedures. The training of the survey team will likely begin in mid 2011. Although the HeroRATs will not be utilized during the first phase of this project, we are looking into bringing the rats to Thailand at a later stage to speed up clearance, when the necessary funds are secured. This will aid Thailand’s efforts to comply with the 2018 APMBC deadline.
APOPO aims to help Thailand and TMAC to streamline its operational land release decision making concepts and is prepared to establish a technical survey and clearance capacity to follow on after the survey, and continue to release land for as long as the problem exists or funding permits. APOPO’s Thailand project received initial financial support from the Lien Foundation in 2010.

Full accreditation for our newest heroes

Congratulations are in order for five handlers and seven HeroRATs in Mozambique! In order to prepare for their demining work in the real minefields, all of our staff members – both human and rat alike – must pass an official accreditation test from the National Institute of Demining in Mozambique (IND) before they can set foot (or paw) in the minefields.
Recently three of our Tanzanian trainers, and two of our Mozambican trainers, triumphantly passed their National Institute of Demining (IND) accreditation test. Additionally, seven of our HeroRATs (including the ever-popular Ziko) also passed their IND accreditation test, becoming official Mine Detection Rats (MDRs).
Now they can put all of their hard work and training into practice, and enter the real minefields to save lives and limbs! Everyone at APOPO sends their congratulations on passing the test, and wishes the newest additions to the HeroRAT demining team every success in their vital work.

Collaborative action at Skoll World Forum

APOPO’s HeroRATs were represented by our founder, Bart Weetjens, at this year’s Skoll World Forum (SWF) in Oxford, UK, where in 2009 APOPO won the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Each year, SWF social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, academics, and representatives from various governments and industry leaders, come together in Oxford to discuss innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing humanitarian concerns. 
The theme for 2011’s SWF was “Large Scale Change – ecosystems, networks and collaborative action.” In the words of founder Jeff Skoll, who happened to mention APOPO’s “big, big rats” in his opening speech:
“A key imperative of the Skoll World Forum is to cultivate the collaborations and grow the networks that will propel these social entrepreneurs and their innovations to global impact.”
With the Skoll Foundation’s support, our innovative HeroRATs are already making their mark on a global platform. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on inspiring collaborative action that helps to further the reach of our humanitarian efforts and achieve social transformation in the communities we serve.
While at SWF, Bart was interviewed by TrustLaw about the ideas behind APOPO and how our HeroRATs can help to solve pressing humanitarian challenges. TrustLaw compiled Bart’s perspectives, along with snapshots of 10 other ‘big thinkers’ as a way to present the state of social entrepreneurship in 2011. 
To view Bart’s interview, please click here

Trendsetting APOPO at the WCMP

APOPO founder, Bart Weetjens, spread the word about the great work our HeroRATs are doing at the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The philosophy of the WCMP is driven by compassion, which is intrinsic in Islamic values. The WCMP envisions a peaceful, equitable and sustainable world, and is committed to advancing effective strategic giving.
Bart was invited to the WCMP to speak at a plenary session on trendsetting humanitarian projects whose audience included leaders in Islamic philanthropy. The main topic of discussion was innovative ideas that can make giving in the Muslim world more effective, by investing in locally generated agendas for inclusive social and environmental change.


On behalf of APOPO and the HeroRATs, thank you for continuing to follow and support us in our efforts to save lives and limbs. We wish you all a wonderful month ahead!

Warm regards,


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