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Oct 26, 2020

A Gold-Medal-Winning Quarter

Magawa and his gold medal.
Magawa and his gold medal.

Well. What an incredible quarter! Not only have our operations continued in the face of a pandemic but in September we also received the fantastic news that one of our HeroRATs, Magawa, was to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for life-saving work. We couldn't be prouder! 

Magawa Receives PDSA Gold Medal

One of our landmine detection rats, Magawa was born in Tanzania in November 2014. He grew up at APOPO's Training and Research centre in Tanzania where he learned how to detect the smell of explosives using his nose. Magawa moved to Siem Reap in Cambodia in 2016 where he met his new handler Malen and began his successful career. To date he has found 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance, making him APOPO’s most successful HeroRAT. Over the past 4 years he has helped clear over 141,000 square metres of land (the equivalent of twenty football pitches), allowing local communities to live, work and play without fear of losing life or limb.

PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity, providing free and reduced-cost veterinary care to the pets of people in need. The PDSA Gold Medal is awarded to civilian animals for life-saving bravery and exceptional devotion to duty and the award is recognised worldwide as the animal equivalent of the George Cross. Magawa was formally presented with his rat-sized PDSA Gold Medal via a live link between Cambodia and the UK by the PDSA’s Director General. He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history of honouring animals to receive a PDSA Medal – joining a line-up of brave dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

Beating the Odds to Clear Minefields

As COVID-19 spread around the world we continued to push forward in our mission. Throughout this past quarter our teams across the world have continued to adapt in order to continue our life-saving work whilst minimising risk with protective measures - these included installing additional sinks, renting larger staff housing and increasing our fleet of cars.

In Cambodia demining operations continued in the Srey Nui area of Siem Reap, where suspect land along roads and farmland has not been safe to use for almost 30 years. The surrounding rural population is dependent on agriculture. Clearance of the area returns much-needed safe land back to the communities as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. This in turn will allow them to improve their livelihoods by increasing their livestock and expanding their farms.

APOPO teams in Siem Reap finished clearing 10 minefields covering 856,635 m2 land around Dai Av village with the land now being declared safe. APOPO and the HeroRATs - including Magawa - found 115 landmines and 99 unexploded ordnance (UXO). On July 22nd a small handover ceremony was held at the village where APOPO and CMAC teams officially released the safe land back to the village.

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It's thanks to your continued support that were able to bring real change to the communities with which we work.  Your incredible support allows us to detect landmines and tuberculosis across the world and we cannot thank you enough. 

The team embraces COVID-19 measures.
The team embraces COVID-19 measures.
Magawa and handler, Malen
Magawa and handler, Malen
Operations in Cambodia continue.
Operations in Cambodia continue.
Aug 13, 2020

HeroTREEs Agroforestry Boosts Soil Fertility!

A HeroTREE Acrocarpas during a site visit.
A HeroTREE Acrocarpas during a site visit.

Welcome to your quarterly project update. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many of our farmers were able to continue their vital work and it's our pleasure to bring you the following information directly from the field. 
 

Total number of trees planted:

2300 across more than 10 species of tree.


The number of farmers who received training:

20 farmers in Ruvuma

20 farmers in Mgambazi

20 farmers in Tulo

20 farmers in Choma

10 farmers in Kisosa

The training provided to these farmers covered the collection of more indigenous seeds and seedlings, plucking them out into polythene bags or planting them directly into the field. Training also covered the care of seedlings in nurseries in addition to the management of trees once planted. 

 
Plans for the next quarter:

- Identification of more indigenous seeds or seedlings to establish in nurseries.

- Management of tree seedlings across all nurseries.

 
To you, a huge thank you:

With your support this scheme has motivated farmers from all 5 areas to plant an incredible number of trees, safeguarding the forests of the Uluguru mountains. Your continued support for this project will help us continue in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, in addition to reducing poverty for local farmers, ensuring greater economic security. 

HeroTREEs members at their nursery.
HeroTREEs members at their nursery.
Agroforestry systems boost soil fertility.
Agroforestry systems boost soil fertility.
Group member with a newly-planted Pinus species.
Group member with a newly-planted Pinus species.
Jul 13, 2020

An Unprecedented Quarter

Deminer Rathana receiving essential supplies
Deminer Rathana receiving essential supplies

Our last project report was sent to you on March 25, 2020 and my goodness, a lot has happened since then.

For us here at APOPO the pandemic has had a significant effect on our finances and our operations; in last quarter we have striven, wherever possible, to continue our humanitarian missions but the nature of our work means we have been subject to varying levels of lockdown across different locations. In some of our operational countries, like Angola, we have had to cease activity entirely during the last three months following the declaration of a state of emergency. In others, such as Cambodia, we took the difficult decision to close the doors of our popular Visitor Center in Siem Reap in order to protect staff and visitors, and play our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Not everything over the last three months has been negative, however. Such difficult times saw a significant number of people reach out to us with genuine interest as to whether our HeroRATs could be trained to detect COVID-19, a subject that we cover here. Your questions about our HeroRATs capabilites are always inspiring!

Without a doubt we have experienced unprecedented times, but throughout the last three months one thing has been made clear to us - the unwavering support from people like you. With the pandemic hitting our finances hard, we've leant on our supporters harder than before and the messages of support and incoming donations have been a lifeline for our staff. With your support we were able to financially support our staff in Cambodia despite the closure of our Visitor Center, we were also able to purchase food and basic supplies for our HeroRAT handlers, trainers and staff which enabled them to support their families through this crisis. 

Over the last three months the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all in some way, and as the world continues to manage its response in the best way it can we'd like to say that we hope you and your loved ones are well and continue to remain so. Your donations and positivity for our work is the blood running through our veins and we cannot thank you enough. 

On behalf of all of us here at APOPO, thank you so very much. 

Did You Know?

From 09:00:00 to 23:59:59 ET on July 15, 2020 GlobalGiving will be matching eligible donations from $100 to $1000 as follows:

Donations from $100 to $499 will be matched at 15%
Donations from $500 to $749 will be matched at 35%
Donations from $750 to $1000 will be matched at 50%

Keep an eye out for our project appeals and join us on June 15 and make your donation go farther for free.

Tour guide Voly receiving essential supplies
Tour guide Voly receiving essential supplies
Cambodia staff social distancing with masks
Cambodia staff social distancing with masks
 
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