Dr. Jane Goodall pays a visit to APOPO
Internationally renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall recently spent a morning with the APOPO team – human and rat alike – as part of her larger visit to Sokoine University of Agriculture this February.
After being introduced to our work through our founder, Bart Weetjens, Dr. Goodall visited our Tanzanian headquarters for the first time in 2003. This month she was warmly welcomed back to our training facilities, where she spent a morning touring APOPO’s landmine detection training field, viewing the rats in action, and speaking with our HeroRAT trainers and staff.
Following a break at APOPO’s Tuberculosis Detection facility for tea and coffee, Dr. Goodall, along with her team, representatives from Sokoine University, and members of the University's Roots and Shoots club, commenced the planting of 20 fruit trees to brighten the garden of our TB Detection facility.
“I admire the work APOPO is doing with their HeroRATs, on behalf of the thousands of people whose lives have been saved, and for changing the reputation of the rats for the better,” said Dr. Goodall, after completing her visit of APOPO. The entire APOPO staff was proud to present our training headquarters to Dr. Goodall and her team, and we invite her again to Morogoro anytime!
A life affected by APOPO’s work
Azarias is one of many people affected by landmines in Mozambique. In 1981, he lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine in the Pfukwe Corridor of the Mabalane District. Since then he has lost his brother, uncle and cousin, all to landmines. His livelihood, livestock, was also at risk.
When asked about the mines, Azarias looked down and said, “When I heard the loud noise of a mine, I felt sad and thought of my past years. I knew it was either the life of a human being, or of a livestock that had been taken away.”
APOPO has since been clearing mines in the Mabalane District, which was one of the largest minefields in Mozambique. APOPO’s Mine Action Program in the Gaza Province has so far positively affected the lives of over 117,500 people.
Azarias smiles, “There is happiness, our land has been returned to us, freedom of grazing for livestock, no restrictions on where we walk. The mines have been a serious problem and we have already seen a reduction in people losing their lives. We are very happy.”
Surveying the Thai-Cambodian border
Along the Thai-Cambodian border, the APOPO-PRO survey teams have now detailed more than 50 million square meters of Suspected Hazardous Areas (SHA). As a result, the surveyed land was reclassified as follows:
• 5% Cancelled Land• 25% Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA)• 70% SHA or Area With Restriction (ARW), pending further technical survey.
Alongside the four non-technical survey (NTS) teams, APOPO-PRO had two small technical survey (TS) teams, whose role was to verify information being collected. Through this verification process, 476 mines were found along with 876 explosive remnants of war (ERW). These finds confirm that the NTS methodology is correctly identifying areas containing mines.
With such a promising start for the survey program, APOPO hopes to secure further funding to ensure that we continue to play a significant role in helping the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) achieve their goal of a mine-free nation.
Lieutenant GeneraI Chatree Changrian, Director General of TMAC, fully supports APOPO’s efforts: “APOPO has made a substantial contribution, and has become one of the most important partners of TMAC…we believe that APOPO’s efforts can contribute to a much more efficient survey to facilitate the land release process, which will bring Thailand as well as other countries in this region many steps closer to full compliance with the APMBC.”
A Day in the Life of a HeroRAT-in-training
HeroRATs put their best paws forward for the camera in their latest cinematic effort, “A Day in the Life of a HeroRAT-in-training,” specially filmed for GlobalGiving’s 2012 Video Contest. Even though the HeroRATs were not declared winners this time around, the three-minute video remains featured on our GlobalGiving project page, Train HeroRATs for life-saving detection missions.The video follows a typical morning in the lives of future landmine detection HeroRATs, as they train hard inTanzania to fulfill their dreams of one day saving lives in Mozambique or another mine-affected country.
All GlobalGiving Video Contest entrants were judged by Laura Knudson, Education Program Manager for the Green Living Project, a film production company that documents global stories of sustainability. Although the HeroRATs were not chosen among the final five, the rats are still proud of their effort and invite you to view the video: either right here on GlobalGiving, or here on APOPO’s Youtube Channel.
Stay tuned for more films in the future as the HeroRATs shake, rattle, and roll for the camera!
Help us improve our communications by taking our survey!
APOPO’s HeroRAT team is interested in improving our communications with you, our donors and supporters! We would greatly appreciate your feedback in one or both of these brief surveys:
APOPO’s Online Communications SurveyAPOPO’s Adopt-a-Rat Program Survey
Thanks for reading, and until next time,
The HeroRAT email@example.com/heroRATtwitter.com/heroRATs
APOPO ranks 24 in Global Top 100 Best NGOs list!
This month, The Global Journal published its inaugural “Top 100 Best NGOs” list, the first international ranking of its kind. An initial group of 2,000 non-governmental organizations was researched, edited, and eventually cut to 400, before the final group of 100 was selected – and APOPO came in at No. 24!
The Global Journal is a print and online publication based in Geneva and New York that covers the issues and players shaping global governance today. All organizations considered for the Top 100 were assessed based on five key criteria in relation to their humanitarian efforts: impact, innovation, transparency, sustainability and efficiency.
Recognizing the role we play as influential agents of large-scale change, “The Global Journal has sought to move beyond outdated clichés and narrow conceptions about what an NGO is and does. From humanitarian relief to the environment, public health to education, microfinance to intellectual property, NGOs are increasingly at the forefront of developments shaping the lives of millions of people around the world.”
APOPO is excited to have made the list, among an incredible group of worthy organizations. With this validation, we will continue to strengthen our impact and further our efforts to provide solutions to global humanitarian detection challenges. You can take a look at the full list of Top 100 Best NGOs here.
Wrapping up 2011 with a Win
For creatures that live and work so close the ground, the HeroRATs definitely finished their year on a high note with the news that we had been declared Second Winner in McKinsey’s Social Innovation Video Contest! Thanks to the tireless voting and promoting of our friends and fans (that means you!), the good news came as an early holiday gift to APOPO’s HeroRATs, when the contest winners were announced on December 13th, 2011.
Our video entry, “Training HeroRATs to sniff out TB,” received 709 votes throughout the ten-day voting period and placed us Second out of 11 Finalists. We were honored to be included with First Winner, “Embrace,” and Third Winner, “The sOccket,” whose videos (along with the Fan Favorite Winner submitted by “Duto:IRIS”) can be watched here.
The top three winners will be included in a print edition of McKinsey’s publication What Matters (out this month!), will be featured in a special TV program co-produced by Link TV and Viewchange.org, and will be honored at a networking reception in New York City. Winners have also already been featured on the Huffington Post’s Impact Blog!
We’d like to send our gRATitude to everyone who voted for our video in the contest. Thanks for your support!
TB Workshop a Top Success
In December, APOPO held a successful TB workshop at our headquarters in Tanzania. Representatives of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Program (NTLP) were invited to take a behind-the-scenes look at our TB Detection Rats, in order to better understand the processes and importance of our collaborative efforts to increase the rate of new case findings in Tanzania.
There were 27 in attendance, including Regional TB and Leprosy Coordinators (RTLCs), District TB and Leprosy Coordinators (DTLCs), and lab technicians from collaborating DOTS Centers. Professor Kazwala, from Sokoine University of Agriculture, was also present, along with members of APOPO’s TB Detection team.
The workshop started with a demonstration of the TB Detection HeroRATs, followed by a video clip explaining how detection rats technology works as a diagnostic tool. The 2011 data was then presented, showing the total number of samples screened by rats during second-line screening, the total number of patients screened, and the additional cases identified by rats, from each of the DOTS centers APOPO partners with. The floor was then opened for discussion.
A newly developed reporting system was adopted, which is designed to assist the DOTS Centers in calling back patients with new cases identified by the rats. A consensus was reached for all involved to continue working closely to ensure diligent patient follow up. With the new system in place, it is hoped that the NTLP will gather strong evidence that highlights APOPO's contribution to the TB control effort in Tanzania.
HeroRATs hit the newsstands in Germany
Extra, extra! The HeroRATs found their way onto newsstands in Germany on the first day of the new year, when popular women’s magazine Brigitte published an ode to our heroes in their opening issue of 2012.
Beginning with the encouragement to “Forget everything you know about rats. One day they will save the world,” the article paid homage to the human-and-rat-team of APOPO through its detailed description of our work, and by spreading the word about our furry heroes throughout the country. Its publication resulted in new adoptions and donations from over 130 German supporters, all of whom referenced the article as how they heard about APOPO – now that’s some influential liteRATure!
The HeroRATs thoroughly enjoyed their moment in the journalistic spotlight of writer Claudia Münster (an adopter of HeroRAT, Tyson!) and under the flashing lights of photographer Ulla Lohmann. We would like to send many squeaks of thanks their way – and of course, to the adopters and donors who took an interest in our work after reading the magazine. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the article yet, be sure to download a PDF of it here.
APOPO in attendance at the 11MSP in Cambodia
From November 28 to December 2, the 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty convened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The annual meeting – also known as the MSP – not only includes the 159 States Parties, but also representatives from States Not Party, civilians, landmine survivors, and delegations of experts from organizations such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). In attendance were Håvard Bach, APOPO’s Head of Mine Action, and Andrew Sully, Program Manager for APOPO’s Thailand Mine Action Program.
Attendees were greeted with a keynote address by Song Kosal, a Cambodian ICBL Youth Ambassador and landmine survivor. Her address implored attendees to follow the theme of this year’s meeting and “Push For Progress” by accelerating mine clearance, sustaining funding and cooperation, destroying existing stockpiles of landmines, and ensuring the rights of survivors, among many other crucial goals.
Cambodia’s well-known struggle with landmines – deadly reminders of past civil war – causes many to feel that, as Ms. Kosal stated, “the heart of the mine ban movement is in Cambodia.” Bringing the 11MSP to Phnom Penh allowed visitors to take note of the progress that has been made, but also to take stock of the remaining work to be done in a country that lives daily with landmines.
In 2010, APOPO found our way to the region when we launched our Thailand Mine Action program with the help of a grant from the Lien Foundation. The team is currently at work in the Thai province of Trat, surveying land along the Cambodian border. To learn more about our work in the Southeast Asia, visit our Thailand Mine Action page.
KKNH Sponsors “Elvis” the HeroRAT
The mission of German NGO Kriegskindernothilfe (KKNH) is to provide emergency aid for child victims of war, and for many years, the organization has supported Elvis, a young landmine survivor from Sarajevo. KKNH have paid for Elvis’ operations, financed his new prostheses, and supported his social and professional development.
Now, in a fitting and heartfelt gesture, the team of KKNH has connected with APOPO to fund the full training program of one landmine detection HeroRAT, named – you guessed it – Elvis! In doing so, they endeavor to provide support not only for victims of war, but also for preventative measures which aim to reduce the landmine impact in other affected regions.
The work of the HeroRATs was first introduced to Kurt Amert of KKNH through a friend and fundraiser, Luise Zempel. Luise, together with her knitting group, had initially raised funds for APOPO in order to support Ziko the HeroRAT as part of our shared adoption program.“This commitment, which we now begin with APOPO, strengthens our work, because with you we now can also act preventively,” says Luise. “And – we think this is an important emergency aid, which is deeply rooted in the name Kriegskindernothilfe.”
APOPO is grateful to Kurt, Luise, Elvis & the KKNH organization for their important advocacy work, raising awareness and support for landmine survivors. We have no doubt the young trainee rat, Elvis, will carry his name with pride as he goes about his daily detection missions, sniffing out mines and preventing the loss of lives and limbs.
Elvis shared his story and his thoughts on his HeroRAT namesake with APOPO! If you would like to read it in his own words, please click here.
The HeroRATs thank you for your interest in our work, and wish you a prosperous start to 2012!
The HeroRAT team
As the new year begins, we hope that you had a peaceful, healthy and happy 2011. Because of the support and generosity of our friends around the world, APOPO and the HeroRATs can look back on the past year as one of our best years yet!
CLICK HERE to view the special video message we created to thank you for what you helped us to achieve in 2011.
Thanks to you and others like you, the HeroRATs have sniffed out over 700 landmines and returned more than 710,000 square meters of land back to the people of Mozambique. We’ve expanded the reach of APOPO Mine Action into South East Asia, with the launch of our combined Technical and Non-Technical Survey along the Thai-Cambodian border. And we rats are proving ourselves as a vital new diagnostic tool, every week increasing new TB case findings in Tanzania. We even intend to replicate the success of this program in Mozambique in 2012!
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity and help of the GlobalGiving community. Your support has given many a HeroRAT the opportunity to relax in a shiny new kennel after a morning’s training session. It’s bought the plane ticket to Mozambique for Mine Detection Rats, ready to put their life-saving training to work in the minefields. And, of course, it’s thanks to your support that the HeroRATs’ cheeks are often full of our favorite rewards: sweet bananas and peanut treats!
So we would like to take this moment to thank you for believing in us in 2011, and for giving us something to celebrate. We look forward to sharing more life-saving adventures with you in 2012.
The HeroRAT Teamherorats@apopo.orgwww.apopo.orgfacebook.com/heroRATtwitter.com/heroRATs
Mozambique Mine Action Achievements
APOPO-PRO Progress in Thailand
Our Thailand Mine Action Program headed into the field for the first time in 2011. Equipped with 25 staff and a partnership with the Thai NGO Peace Road Organization (PRO), the team launched a combined Technical and Non-Technical Survey of all Suspected Hazardous Areas in the province of Trat in June.
APOPO-PRO’s tactic of Land Release Methodology is proving essential in accelerating the daunting task of demining the Thai-Cambodian border. Since the start of the survey, the team has been able to confirm that 25% of surveyed land can indeed be re-classified as Confirmed Hazardous Areas, while 75% of the land can be classified as either Canceled Land or Area with Restriction. During the course of the surveys, the Thailand Mine Action Program has found and destroyed 393 landmines and 859 items of unexploded ordnance.
These early results already prove that APOPO-PRO’s aid will be instrumental in bringing an end to Thailand’s deadly landmine problem. In 2012, the team plans to continue their survey in the province of Chantaburi. The longer-term vision is to utilize a team of trained Mine Detection Rats to speed up clearance efforts in the region and further the reach of our program’s impact.
Significant funding is required to sustain this vital undertaking, and APOPO is appealing to anyone who might be able to support this effort to connect with us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to further discuss the possibility of collaboration.
A mine action milestone for Mozambique
As the year is drawing to a close, so too are our team’s Mine Action efforts in the Gaza Province of Mozambique! Back in 2008, APOPO was tasked as the sole demining organization to continue clearance of the province. In early 2012, our Mine Action team is scheduled to complete clearance of all designated areas, well ahead of the 2014 deadline.
With the help of HeroRATs, APOPO’s team has cleared over 1.9 million square meters of land in the Gaza Province alone, in the process ensuring the safe destruction of 1,762 landmines, 972 unexploded ordnance and 12,168 small arms and ammunitions. A total of 26 tasked areas have been cleared and released to the local community, while clearance efforts continue in two remaining areas.
But the job isn’t over yet! APOPO is committed to helping Mozambique rid itself of its landmine problem by 2014. Next year, we will continue to assist with clearance operations in two of Manica Province’s southern districts, Mossurize and Machaze, covering a total area just over 1.6 million square meters.
Vote for HeroRATs in the McKinsey Social Innovation Video Contest!
The HeroRATs’ skill at hamming it up for the camera has paid off: we’re excited to announce that our video clip, “Training HeroRATs to sniff out TB,” has been selected as a Finalist in the McKinsey Social Innovation Video Contest!
As part of their effort to “create a hub where [McKinsey] can highlight the incredible work taking place around the world,” McKinsey & Company asked social innovators, wherever in the world they might be, to create a one-minute-or-less video showcasing their ideas or solutions to social problems. We are honored that our entry, featuring the talents of our TB-sniffing heroes and longtime APOPO employee Peter, was selected as one of the top 11 finalists, out of 141 entries!
Between November 30th and December 9th, the public is welcome to view all of the finalists’ videos and vote for their favorite! You can vote on one video, once per day, until the December 9th deadline. The three winning organizations with the most votes will be announced on December 12th. As incentives, the lucky final three will be included in a print edition of McKinsey's flagship publication What Matters, have a chance to be featured in a special TV program co-produced with Link TV & Viewchange.org, and will be honored at a networking reception in NYC where the Link TV program will be screened. As an added bonus, each finalist will be featured in The Huffington Post!
Click here to watch all of the finalists’ videos, and cast your vote for the one you think showcases the best innovation and impact. Or, click here to vote for HeroRATs now – and every day until 9th December!
Ashoka Globalizer Summit steps up social change
Between 5 – 7 November, APOPO’s Founder, Bart Weetjens, along with 14 other Ashoka Fellows, went to work exploring the possibilities of scaling social impact at the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in Vienna, Austria. With a core mission that aims to match social innovators with the resources and mentorship needed to advance their innovations, the Globalizer Summit asks: “What do you need to take change to a global level?”
In order to answer this question, the Summit aligns selected Fellows with a team of expert panelists, comprising some of the most accomplished social and business entrepreneurs in the world. The teams then spend three days developing the strategies needed to advance their ideas to effect greater social change.
For Bart, being invited to participate in the Summit was an enlightening experience, and he savored the chance to learn from the experts on his assigned panel – including Jerry White, a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. “This was a great opportunity to learn from accomplished individuals, both in traditional business enterprises as well as in the NGO and social action world,” says Bart. “The interaction with these panelists was quite personal, and went deeply into proven strategies to scale social innovation, like smart networks and open source strategies.”
“In line with Bill Drayton’s ‘Everyone A Changemaker’ vision, there was an emphasis on personal commitment and leadership,” explains Bart, “a call for everyone in society, no matter where you are or what you do, to help make change happen.”
“Poppies for Peace” sprouts support for APOPO
It’s a beautiful garden for a great cause: the Klaprozen voor Vrede (“Poppies for Peace”) project began in 2004, when Belgian ceramic artist Anita Huybens conceptualized, created, and exhibited more than 1,000 ceramic poppies to fundraise for APOPO. Although Anita sadly passed away in September 2008, Klaprozen voor Vrede continues to grow under the leadership of a team of volunteers, and their commitment to the APOPO cause remains strong. Earlier this month, we were grateful to receive a donation of 42,000 Euros thanks to their amazing efforts!
Klaprozen voor Vrede is instrumental in raising both funds and awareness of the global landmine problem. In the past, the sale of these poppies – at 50 Euros each – enabled APOPO to purchase two brush-cutting machines, vital pieces of equipment for our Mozambique Mine Action team!
The project continues Anita’s work by exhibiting the poppies at events throughout the year, and there are several permanent displays throughout Belgium; you can learn more about their locations here. If you are interested in purchasing a poppy, you may also download a PDF of their brochure (in English, French, and Dutch).
We are truly touched by the Klaprozen voor Vrede project’s recent donation, and would like to thank all of the volunteers involved for their incredible support of our work!
HeroRAT Trainer profile: reflections from the minefields
Hamoud (also known as Moudy) has been working with APOPO for five years, training HeroRATs at our headquarters in Tanzania. In January of 2011, he was among four Tanzanian trainers chosen to spend six months working with our Mozambique Mine Action team.
Because this was his first trip to Mozambique, Hamoud was excited to see how his work in Tanzania was implemented, and while there, he was determined to learn all he could from the Mozambique Mine Action team. “It’s important to interact well,” he says, “and you must get used to the new language and new people. You can’t take the culture from Tanzania and bring it to Mozambique. They [the team] are used to working there, so you must listen to them and implement their advice.” In order to listen, he had to first learn their language. Mastering Portuguese, he says, was one of his proudest accomplishments.
Of course, he also took pride in the great work he did with the HeroRATs. In one morning alone, he remembers, his rat located no less than four mines! He also discovered that he enjoyed working with one rat in particular. “Out of all of the Mine Detection Rats, Chosen One was my favorite,” he reveals. “He was polite, he walked very well, and he did good work!”
Hamoud is now back in Tanzania, and has resumed training HeroRATs each morning at our headquarters. Although he is glad to be home, he says he would certainly return to Mozambique. “We are giving land back to the people for development and for infrastructure,” he explains, “and I’m proud of this work.”
1000 Dinners for HeroRATs
Night of a Thousand Dinners (N1KD) is a student-run gala dedicated to raising awareness of the global landmine crisis and its devastating effect on international communities. The International Relations Students Association (IRSA) of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, recently held their 9th Annual N1KD event. This year, the IRSA chose to highlight the work of APOPO’s mine detection HeroRATs at their gala!
About 230 people attended the event on 21 November, which featured a silent auction, a string quartet performance, a mouth-watering three course dinner, and a presentation on the mine action efforts of APOPO. A video message came all the way from HeroRAT headquarters in Tanzania, featuring APOPO’s Founder, Bart Weetjens, who expressed gratitude to the audience for being a part of such a wonderful initiative.
A huge thanks to the IRSA team for all the time, energy and enthusiasm they put into organizing this event: we appreciate their efforts to bring the global problem of landmines into the spotlight and offer support for mine action efforts around the world.
Give a rat, help save lives this holiday season!
Move over, Kindle and iPad: this season’s hottest holiday gifts have four legs, long tails, and sniffers even more useful than that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Their names are Nala, Cheeky, Blossom, and Mojo, and supporting their life-saving work through a HeroRAT Gift Adoption is a hassle-free way to bring holiday cheer to anyone on your gift list!
Lucky gift recipients will be warmly welcomed into our Adopt-a-Rat program with a snazzy adoption certificate and welcome letter introducing them to their brand-new HeroRAT. Throughout the year, they will also be able to enjoy regular progress reports lovingly written and emailed from their adopted rat.
A HeroRAT adoption truly is a gift that continues to give. Long after the presents have been unwrapped and thank you cards have been sent, our HeroRATs will still be doing their life-saving detection work – and bringing cheer wherever they go!
For more info, email us at email@example.com.
Finally, to get yourselves in the festive spirit, be sure to visit us on Facebook and Twitter in the lead-up to the holiday season - we'll be posting 12 Days of HeroRATs for the Holidays to put a smile on your face and spread some joy to the world...
On behalf of the HeroRATs, we wish you a safe and peaceful lead-up to the festive season!
The HeroRAT firstname.lastname@example.org/HeroRATtwitter.com/HeroRATs
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