APOPO vzw

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 9, 2010

May 2010 Newsletter

Welcome to the May edition of the HeroRATs e-newsletter!

This month, we feature some exciting events: another great Skoll World Forum event, brainstorming with changemakers; new pups in our breeding department; a big HeroRAT adventure to WEF Africa, and a hands-on demonstration for the Young Global Leaders; and a moment shared with the President of Tanzania, Mr Kikwete!

It’s been a huge month! You can keep updated with all that’s happening throughout a HeroRATs week on Twitter or Facebook. Founder & CEO attended Skoll World Forum

Founder Bart Weetjens and CEO Christophe Cox attended the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship during April in Oxford, UK. The focus of the week was ‘catalysing collaboration for large scale change’, and one of the sessions the APOPO team found most valuable was a panel on Collaborative Leadership. This hands-on workshop allowed the group to look at ways to increase organizational effectiveness while at the same time maintaining an environment which values and supports changemakers.

During their time at the forum, APOPO also met with the Skoll Foundation to present their latest progress report, as the recipient of a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2009. The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship recognize the most innovative and sustainable approaches to resolving the most urgent social issues.

APOPO is well on track to achieving the objectives and deliverables outlined initially, and was excited to receive the second instalment of their capacity building grant from the Skoll Foundation. APOPO is privileged to be a part of the Skoll community, and congratulates the Skoll Foundation for their visionary leadership in offering unrestricted support for social enterprises. World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Tanzania

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from May 5 – 7. The focus was of this year’s event was ‘rethinking Africa’s growth strategy’, and the result of the week’s meetings was a collective call to end the continent’s marginalization, and work towards changing Africa’s position within the global economy.

A highlight of the WEF week was a chance meeting with the President of Tanzania, Mr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who has for a long time been a committed supporter of the HeroRATs’ work in the Great Lakes Region. In his previous role as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Kikwete was actively involved in helping to connect 11 countries in the Great Lakes Region of Africa to APOPO. His input was invaluable, and they subsequently endorsed APOPO as the lead agency for Mine Action in the region.

Founder of APOPO, Bart Weetjens, and Training Supervisor in our TB detection center, Maureen Jubitana, shared a memorable moment with Mr Kikwete at the Soirée on the evening of 6 May. Together they discussed the progress of APOPO’s work in Tanzania as well as expansion to other African countries, and the President expressed his continued support for our work. We are very grateful for Mr Kikwete’s positivity and vision to export Tanzanian technology and skills to countries in need, in Africa and beyond. His endorsement of our work will become even more important as HeroRATs’ potential continues to grow. HeroRATs meet a new generation of leaders at WEF Africa

Three of our tuberculosis detection rats, Ishengoma, Peter and Gaitan, had a big adventure to Dar es Salaam recently as part of the World Economic Forum on Africa. The Young Global Leaders (YGLs) were in town for their Annual Summit, and a group of 15 YGLs visited Mwananyamala Hospital on 3 May to learn more about the work APOPO’s HeroRATs are doing.

Mwananyamala is one of five DOTS centers in Dar es Salaam that our rats currently provide a second-line screen for tuberculosis. The hospital was happy to host the YGL ‘Impact Journey’ with APOPO, where the visitors got the chance to learn about a local organization’s work and impact, and then brainstorm potential solutions to challenges faced by the organization.

APOPO Founder Bart Weetjens gave a presentation on the HeroRATs, which was followed by a live demonstration of our heroes in action, sniffing out tuberculosis. A fascinated audience included local medical students and staff from Mwananyamala Hospital, who have been instrumental in assisting with APOPO with our second-line screening program. The HeroRATs gave an impressive display of their exceptional sniffing abilities, locating all of the TB-positive samples and earning their banana rewards!

After the demonstration, there was plenty of lively discussion and the YGLs later provided APOPO with their brainstormed ideas on strategic, marketing, and funding challenges. They also expressed what ‘a truly eye-opening experience’ the session was! The HeroRATs team was equally excited to be able to share our work with the YGLs, and very appreciative of their constructive feedback. Keen to see our heroes in action for yourself? Take a look at clips of our HeroRATs at work.

Breeding success

Breeding a new generation of HeroRATs is no easy feat! Our Belgian breeding expert, Dimitri, and caretaker, Albert, have been working hard to provide all kinds of new and different stimuli for the couples in our rat-breeding program. New toys, extra play time, slow introductions, darker kennels, a variety of tasty (hidden) food treats, the list goes on…

In the month of May, we welcomed 21 new HeroRAT pups, to be heard squeaking on a walk past the breeding kennels. Well done, breeding team! Dimitri says it’s difficult to tell whether the new stimuli may have had something to do with our recent ‘baby boom’, since our rats (Gambianus Cricetomys) are thought to be seasonal breeders with peaks during the rainy seasons (April-May and October-December). Also, the number of breeding couples has been expanded from 9 to 40 – a definite factor in our increased productivity in the breeding department!

You can help us to continue developing our breeding program (and produce even more young HeroRATs) by making a contribution to the HeroRATs cause!

Mine action in Mozambique

So far this year, our Mine Action team in Mozambique has cleared more than 183,640 square meters of land in the Gaza Province! Our HeroRATs have found 92 landmines, and 23 explosive remnants of war.

Landmines pose a structural barrier to development and economic growth. Each landmine found by a HeroRAT brings us another step closer towards helping Mozambique become a mine-impact free country by 2014. And we’ll shortly be sending an additional team of HeroRATs to help expand operations there even further!

Visit our website to learn more about our Mine Action Program in Mozambique.

2009 APOPO Annual Report

All APOPO facts in a nutshell: If you missed out on reading the 2009 APOPO Annual Report, you can download it from the APOPO website. It includes an overview of all our developments, achievements and challenges of 2009, along with our organizational goals for 2010.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to forward to a friend if you think they might be interested in our work too! Warm regards, The HeroRATs team www.herorat.org

Links:

Jun 9, 2010

April 2010 Newsletter

Greetings friends,

The month of April kicked off to a great start with International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action and World Rat Day, both taking place simultaneously on Sunday 4 April.

Here’s all the latest news in communications from HeroRATs Headquarters… A brand new HeroRAT website The HeroRATs team has been busy launching our brand new website! Check it out at www.herorat.org. Learn all about how we got started, and why we chose to work with rats. Find out more about the work we do, and meet the team of heroes and humans who make everything happen on the ground. Take a look at the HeroRATs in action, or check out our blog for all the latest news. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us at herorats@herorat.org. We welcome your suggestions! Coming soon: The new membership section of the website will be up and running shortly! For those of you who have adopted a HeroRAT, you’ll receive a username and password so you can sign in and check on your chosen rat’s progress, as well as see pics of your rat at work.

HeroRATs & Bart Weetjens feature in The Economist This month, The Economist featured a special on the HeroRATs – a montage of images of our heroes in action. The video is a part of a series The Economist is producing each month using still images and a commentary sound track; April’s focus is APOPO’s HeroRATs. Bart Weetjens tells the story of our history and our work over the beautiful images and graphics. We are grateful to The Economist for sharing our work with their readership and hope it serves to inform people of where we came from, what we’ve accomplished so far, and where we hope to go. APOPO article on landmine detection published in latest edition of UNICRI’s Freedom From Fear Magazine APOPO was published in the latest edition of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute’s (UNICRI) quarterly magazine, Freedom from Fear. This edition was focused on the environment and is available on UNICRI’s website. It is also distributed electronically to thousands of people. APOPO’s article is focused on training rats for landmine detection. “Although most people view rats as ‘bad animals’ that carry diseases and destroy property, APOPO calls its animals ‘HeroRATs’ for the valuable humanitarian service they perform.” To see the full article, see page 40 of the March 2010 edition. BBC special: thanks for watching, blogging & tweeting! Last month’s BBC special about APOPO, Alvin’s Guide to Good Business, helped to raise awareness about the HeroRATs’ important work in landmine detection and tuberculosis screening. 250,000 people viewed the BBC online article about us, and hundreds more blogged or tweeted about APOPO and the HeroRATs! We wanted to send a massive thank you to everyone who watched the special, shared the link, helped by spreading the word to friends or colleagues, made a donation to the cause, or adopted a HeroRAT. Your contribution ensures our HeroRATs can continue to help sniffing out solutions to global problems! Thank you.

If you missed out on the special, or know someone who might be interested, you can still view it here. Current and Upcoming Events – Skoll World Forum, World Economic Forum on Africa, Young Global Leaders Summit APOPO founder Bart Weetjens and CEO Christophe Cox headed to Oxford, UK, to represent the HeroRATs at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship from 14 – 16 April. This year’s forum was all about ‘catalysing collaboration for large scale change’. Look out for an update on their participation in next month’s e-newsletter! Also coming up soon (5 – 7 May) is the 20th World Economic Forum on Africa, being held for the first time in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Forum’s Young Global Leaders Summit will take place simultaneously, bringing together 200 exceptional younger leaders from all corners of the globe, committed to shaping the global future. APOPO will be present for both gatherings and looks forward to sharing a bit of Tanzania with the participants. More on both events next month! Friend us on Facebook & follow our rat-tweets Keep up with the rat race! Become a friend of HeroRATs on Facebook or follow our rat-tweets for all the latest news. Thanks so much for your interest in our work! Warm regards, The HeroRATs team herorats@herorat.org www.herorat.org

Links:

Jun 9, 2010

March 2010 Newsletter

Dear friends and supporters,

Greetings from Tanzania, where the rainy season is almost upon us! Hopefully this update finds you well in your part of the world. This week, check out the HeroRATs in action on BBC World News series Alvin’s Guide to Good Business, airing March 6 and 7.

APOPO reached an exciting milestone in February: the ten year anniversary of our operations commencing in Tanzania! Special guests, staff and family shared a wonderful evening of celebrations, reflecting on how far we’ve come since those early days.

In other news, it has been a busy month here at APOPO headquarters, with the introduction of some new expertise and equipment! We welcomed onboard Dimitri Geelhand from Belgium, who will spend four months with APOPO, researching our breeding program and looking at ways to maximise its potential. APOPO’s Remote Explosive Scent Tracing (REST) program and resident analytical chemist Negussie Beyene welcomed new scientific equipment, which will aide in their work to analyze explosive vapors.

This edition of the newsletter features a profile of one of our HeroRAT trainers, Miraji, who has worked with APOPO for a number of years.

We also pay tribute to Harold Mangesho, a dear friend and employee of APOPO who sadly passed away recently. Our two newest HeroRAT pups have been named in his honor, and will continue Harold’s great work.

Thank you for your ongoing support of APOPO’s work!

With warm wishes,

The APOPO team

HeroRATs take the stage: BBC segment March 6 & 7

APOPO is featured in the fourth segment of BBC World News series, Alvin’s Guide to Good Business. Business veteran Alvin Hall visits APOPO’s Center of Excellence in Tanzania, and our operational base in Mozambique, and shares his advice with APOPO Founder Bart Weetjens and CEO Christophe Cox.

Don’t forget to put the dates in your calendar! The APOPO segment airs on:

· March 6, 2010 at 2:30 and 8:30 (GMT)

· March 7, 2010 at 14:30 and 21:30 (GMT)

The program will be available online and free to stream at those times at www.rockhopper.tv. Please join us there and tell your friends! You can view the trailer here.

APOPO Celebrates Ten Years in Tanzania!

APOPO recently passed an exciting milestone: the ten year anniversary of operations in Tanzania! Celebrations were held at the nearby Magadu Officers’ Club on Friday 19 February, with approximately 120 in attendance. Special guests included TPDF-APOPO Coordinator, GeneralDr. Charles Muzanila, and his wife, Professor Yacinta Muzanila, and APOPO’s Chairman of the Board, Professor Mic Billet.

The evening began with a presentation from APOPO’s CEO, Christophe Cox, who reflected on our first ten years in Tanzania and how far we’ve come. This was followed by speeches from our special guests, and the announcements of our annual staff awards. The deserving winners were:

Best Worker: Mark Best Caretaker: Mama Lucy Best Trainers: Senga and Heri Best TB Worker: Harruni Best Field Worker: Juma Ten Year Service Awards: Koba, Asnathi, Alex, Shirima, Abu, Jared, and Alfani

Entertainment throughout the night included a performance from a traditional dance group, acrobatic displays, and reggae renditions from one of our trainers, Niko, backed up by APOPO caretaker Albert. Then in true Tanzanian style, the team danced non-stop until the early hours of the morning!

It was a great opportunity to celebrate together the achievements of APOPO’s staff and HeroRATs over the past ten years…while looking ahead to all the possibilities of rat detection technology in the future. APOPO sends out a massive thanks to everyone who has supported us in reaching this important milestone!

REST program receives new mass spectrometer

APOPO’s Remote Explosive Scent Tracing (REST) program and resident analytical chemist Negussie Beyene are excited to receive new instruments (headspace sampler and mass spectrometric detector) to aide in their work to analyze explosive vapors. Previously, it used to take them a full working day to extract explosive compounds from contaminated soils to be ready for analysis by the gas chromatograph. Now, the headspace sampler can take vapor samples directly from the soil (without any solvent extraction, purification and concentration steps) within few minutes and transfer it directly to the gas chromatograph. This is now coupled with a much better detector that gives the profile of most volatile compounds present in the soil samples.

The new set up avoids all the painstaking extraction steps for Negussie and Alex Iyungu, our REST lab technician. Our partner in the REST project, the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), covered the expense for these machines. It is highly anticipated that acquisition of these modern instruments will greatly enhance the contribution of APOPO’s analytical chemistry laboratory towards making REST operational.

Belgian breeding expert In February, APOPO welcomed the arrival of a new volunteer researcher, Dimitri Geelhand from Belgium. Dimitri has completed a Masters in Evolutionary and Behavioral Biology at the University of Antwerp. His thesis involved a study of the small mammals inhabiting Saadani National Park, in the coastal region of Tanzania. Dimitri became familiar with APOPO’s work during time spent at the Pest Management Centre of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in 2008. He has also spent time working as a research assistant for a project on sea turtles in Costa Rica. Dimitri’s initial interest in APOPO’s rats led to him offering his valuable time and skills in a research capacity, and we are very excited to have him on board. He will be in Morogoro until June, observing our HeroRATs in their breeding enclosures and gathering information about our breeding program. Dimitri will also conduct some research experiments; looking into possible areas of improvement and suggesting ways we can get the most out of our breeding program. Welcome to the team, Dimitri, and we look forward to your input! Meet Miraji

Miraji started with APOPO in 2005 as a trainer, but received his first contract with us in 2002 as a casual laborerworker. He helped to build the training field we still use today and laid out the boxes in which our rats train. Prior to starting with us, Miraji was a carpenter who built roofs, houses, furniture, and fences. He currently trains a number of rats with his training partner, Linda, including: Munah, Sasha, Raula, Cooper, Stanley, Harvey, Survivor I, Sniffles, Mtarami, Letti, and Barker.

Miraji was born in the Mgeta region, but has spent most of his life in a nearby village called Magadu. He has a wife, Zaituni, and three children: Saidi, Hassani, and Zuhura. Miraji raises chickens and learns a lot about raising animals here at APOPO, including the feeding and treatment necessary to bring up strong rats. He uses this knowledge to raise good chickens near his home and earns a bit of income from the venture as well.

On the weekend, Miraji stays home and teaches his children. He works with them after school as well, helping with their homework and trying to encourage them to learn in different ways. In the future, Miraji would love to help kids learn more by becoming a teacher. He also helps his neighbors and friends with repairs on their chairs and tables, and enjoys a good motorbike ride as well.

Miraji hopes that more people here in Tanzania will find out about APOPO’s work. He is glad that the local news agencies are starting to cover our story more.

In Memory and Honor of Harold Mangesho

At the beginning of this year, we lost a dear friend to the APOPO family, Mr. Harold Mangesho. He was a born leader and someone you could never forget.

A very kind-hearted man, Harold came from the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, from a long line of farmers and mechanics. He kept many animals and on the weekends enjoyed lively dancing, working on cars, walking, and watching football. A loving husband and father, Harold put those around him at ease and made things happen.

He worked at APOPO for three years, acting as the “point man” for logistics, driving, mechanics, and our TB detection center. CEO Christophe Cox noted, “we will miss his ever-positive attitude and generous contributions to our work.”

On January 29, there was a memorial service held in Harold’s hometown of Moshi, Tanzania, where he was laid to rest. Harold is survived by his wife, Rose, and his twin three children: Doreen, Judith and Robert, who helped to nurse him in his final days. He will be greatly missed by family, friends and all of us at APOPO.

In his memory we have named our two newest HeroRAT pups, Harold and Mangesho. They will continue Harold’s great work and remind us every day of his unshakable spirit and dedication.

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