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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 d...
Aug 3, 2010

June-July 2010 Newsletter

Greetings from Tanzania, and welcome to this double edition of the HeroRAT e-newsletter for June-July!

As always, it has been a very eventful couple of months – here’s the rundown of some of our HeroRAT happenings…

HeroRATs over neckties for Father’s Day!

‘It’s a rare dad who would choose a store-bought card over a homemade card; or for that matter, a necktie over a gigantic, bomb-sniffing rat.’ We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Following Nicholas Kristof's thoughtful New York Times column for Father’s Day, ‘Dad Will Really Like This,’ APOPO's HeroRATs received an overwhelming wave of support for our work:

- More than 4,000 individuals contributed to the cause - More than $170,000 USD raised - 180 new HeroRAT adopters have been welcomed into our Adopt-a-Rat program

Nicholas highlighted many worthy charitable organizations in his article, and his message was simple and genuine. ‘Wouldn’t most dads feel more honored by a donation to any of these organizations than by a donation to commercialism?’ We are so grateful to Nicholas and the New York Times for the opportunity to share our HeroRATs’ work with their followers.

GlobalGiving has been amazing in supporting our small team to cope with the influx of donations: huge thanks to the entire crew at GG for all your help!

A significant portion of the funds raised will be used to get things off the ground in Angola, the next country our heroes will target in their humanitarian demining work. Angola is the most mine-affected country in sub-Saharan Africa. The landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) littering the country are a result of four decades of almost continuous warfare. For more information about the landmine situation in Angola, check out the ICBL Landmine Monitor at: http://www.icbl.org/lm/2007/angola.

There is a mismatch between the landmine problem itself and the resources currently used to resolve the problem. If Angola is to resolve its considerable landmine problem, there is a need to strengthen the current capacity. DanChurchAid (DCA) is currently operating a Humanitarian Mine Action Programme in one of the areas worst affected by mines, Moxico province. APOPO is looking at partnering with DCA to assist in the further expansion of their programme, by incorporating HeroRATs in the survey and clearance work to increase efficiency.

Two manual deminers with metal detectors typically clear 50 to 100 square meters of land each day, dependent on ground conditions. Two people using APOPO’s mine detection rats typically clear 300 to 600 square meters of land each day, and will be able to release between 600 and 1,000 square meters of land each day if the rats can be used in technical survey (one rat covering the ground once instead of twice, which is required during clearance).

There are currently no animals used for landmine detection in Angola and APOPO's HeroRATs have the potential to compliment other efforts by DCA and increase land release rates considerably while keeping costs down. The HeroRATs will work in partnership with their other demining colleagues to do their part to clear and release suspected areas in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

To those of you who read Nicholas’s column and chose to take action – by making a handmade card for your dad, or by supporting any of the organizations mentioned in the article – thank you. It is a real privilege to be a part of this global gesture of ‘giving’ to causes that aim to improve the lives of others, and make the world safer for everyone.

Funding successes and flying HeroRATs

APOPO and the HeroRATs were grateful to receive a significant increase in the annual funding provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Our operational team in Mozambique is on schedule to meet the 2014 goal for Mozambique to be mine-impact free, and some new recruits have just arrived on the scene to provide additional support.

Eight recent HeroRAT graduates from the training center in Tanzania boarded the plane to Mozambique for their official accreditation test and first humanitarian demining assignment! Once they pass their accreditation test with the National Demining Institute, they will be official Mine Detection Rats (MDRs) and can start helping their teammates in clearing more land, faster!

The team at our Tuberculosis (TB) Detection Center also received the exciting news that the funding for our three-year research plan for TB detection by rats has been approved! A new building is almost finished at the TB Detection Center, which will create more space for our HeroRAT kennels and training rooms to conduct further experiments into our rats’ disease detection abilities. New young rats are being trained for the task, and the aim for the next three years is to optimize our rat detection technology in this area and work on implementation models.

HeroRATs welcomes new corporate sponsor, A12 Business Club

The A12 Business Club of Antwerp, Belgium, recently joined APOPO as a corporate sponsor, generously offering to support the entire training journey of one of our HeroRATs! Freddy Michiels and Johan Dillen of A12 Business Club, joined with APOPO Chairman of the Board, Professor Mic Billet, and communications volunteer, Hedwig De Pauw, in celebrating the naming of their new sponsored HeroRAT: De Nacht van de KMO.

The newly named pup has just begun the socialization process and will soon commence HeroRAT ‘school’ with her trainer, Kombani. It’s the exciting beginning of a nine-month journey to become a fully accredited life-saving detection HeroRAT! This support from A12 Business Club means that every aspect of De Nacht van de KMO’s training is fully covered: food, veterinary check-ups, trainer’s salary, overhead on training rooms, etc. Coverage of these costs allows us to devote more of our funds to our programs in humanitarian demining and tuberculosis detection.

Thank you A12 Business Club: together, we can save more lives and limbs! If your organization would like to learn more about supporting a HeroRAT through its training, please visit the Corporate Adoption page of our website: www.herorat.org/get-involved/corporate-adoption-herorat.

Bart Weetjens and the HeroRATs at TEDx events

APOPO Founder Bart Weetjens recently presented our HeroRATs to audiences at independent TEDx events in Hamburg and Rotterdam. Check out the clip of Bart explaining the life-saving work of his much-loved HeroRATs at TEDx Rotterdam: http://www.tedxrdam.nl/2010/05/bart-weetjens.

Call-out to Rotarians across the world

Are you a member of a Future Visions Rotary Club in your area, or know someone who is? The Rotary Club of Morogoro Central (District 9200) in Tanzania, together with the HeroRATs team, is keen to connect with Future Visions Rotary Clubs in other districts who are interested in sharing support of our HeroRATs’ life-saving work. To find out more, please reach out to us by sending an email to herorats@herorat.org.

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to sign up to receive our monthly e-newsletter at www.herorat.org.

Warm regards,

The HeroRATs team www.herorat.org herorats@herorat.org http://twitter.com/HeroRATS http://www.facebook.com/heroRAT

Links:

Jun 20, 2010

Thanks you for your support of APOPO and Happy Father's Day!

Dear friends,

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof's thoughtful NY Times column on honoring dads through supporting charity instead of commercialism, we have received an overwhelming number of donations, emails, and overall support for our HeroRATs' work. In the past three days, through Global Giving alone, we have received 2,969 donations and $128,239 in revenue! Coupled with the 341 donors who had contributed to the project before, this resulted in donations exceeding the total fundraising goal for the project. We have been truly moved by the number of people who have been connected to our work, and the generosity in which they have shared with us. It is an honor to be a part of celebrating fathers everywhere with our "educated, supermacho giant rats!"

Currently, our demining operations in Mozambique are helping to ensure the Gaza province is mine-impact free by 2014. Thirty-eight HeroRATs and their human colleagues are currently deployed there, offering villagers safe return to their homesteads, access to vital farmland, and opening the doors to essential infrastructure. In Mozambique, our work has returned land to over 44,547 families and helped to heal communities scarred by war.

In Tanzania, we are working to address the challenges of screening for the deadly but curable disease, tuberculosis. Our HeroRATs have discovered over 905 patients that were missed by microscopy at local hospitals, and on a weekly basis find an average of five to ten more undetected patients with active TB. Those patients have been notified, asked to return for another test, and are now receiving treatment. Our HeroRATs have already increased TB detection rates in the five urban hospitals we work with by over 30%, and prevented more than 13,575 healthy people from contracting TB!

Your donations help to ensure the continuation of our demining work in Mozambique, screening for tuberculosis, research for future applications, and the maintenance and training of our rats. We truly value your support, and consider you a partner in this work. More than 80% of the money raised goes directly towards our programs on the ground (15% goes to Global Giving for administration of the donations and the site). We will send an update shortly on how the generous funds will be put to work on the ground.

We have done our best to respond to your inquiries and get your materials to you in a timely manner. If we have made any mistakes or were a little slower to respond than you would have liked, please accept our sincere apologies. In truth we are a very small team, just two of us working on donor support, and we have not yet experienced a response of this magnitude. But if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at herorats@herorat.org. We thank you for your patience as we do our best to answer each of the inquiries we receive.

Nicholas did a great job of highlighting a number of amazing organizations in his column. Whether people chose to celebrate dad by supporting our work, the work of another great organization, or with a handmade token of appreciation, we are honored to be a part of the collective effort to honor the contributions of each father/father-figure out there, in helping to make the world a better place.

With gratitude,

Courtney and Hannah on behalf of the HeroRATs and APOPO team

P.S. An update regarding the plan for the funds will come from our leadership team later this week. Many, many thanks again.

Links:

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:

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