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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 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.


Mar 8, 2010

HeroRATs documentary on BBC World News March 6 & 7

APOPO’s work to clear dangerous landmine affected areas in Mozambique and provide a second-line screening tool for TB in vulnerable populations in Tanzania is the subject of the latest documentary in Alvin Hall’s series about social entrepreneurs. The new series, Alvin’s Guide to Good Business, looks at how social enterprise organizations, like APOPO, are helping to create sustainable development in Africa and beyond. See the video on our site at or it can easily be embedded on your own web site, in tweets, blogs, social action sites and much, much more. To embed the video in your own site please visist: and click the embed button. The film, made by Rockhopper TV in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, will be broadcast on BBC World News at 2.30 and 8.30 GMT on Saturday 6 March, and at 14.30 and 21.30 on Sunday 7 March. You can check your local listings on the BBC World News website What you can do next: The stories of villagers like Tivane and December featured in the documentary are but a few. Through APOPO’s work clearing dangerous landmine-affected areas in Mozambique, we have seen many lives changed for the better. You can be a part of the work we do, and make a difference in the lives of the communities we serve, by donating or adopting a rat today. Visit our Donate page to find out more. Another way to give is by spreading the word about APOPO’s work to colleagues, friends and family. Here are three simple steps to get you started: 1. If you enjoyed the clip, why not share it with others – just send the following link to everyone in your email contacts list: Include an introduction about why you think the issues being tackled in the documentary are important. 2. Blog about the HeroRATs, tweet about the HeroRATs, or become our friend on Facebook. Post your feedback on the documentary, and remember to share the link to the clip with your community. You can tweet the link or even post it in your Facebook status. 3. Learn more about APOPO’s work by subscribing to our newsletter, watching other clips of the HeroRATs in action, or read our latest news articles. Discuss what you’ve learned with those around you. If you’d like a more in-depth look at the work we do, please check out for the scientific knowledge behind our work. Better yet, if you see synergies between our work and yours, please contact us about potential partnerships or collaboration. Many thanks and feel free to reach out to us at if you have questions!


Dec 7, 2009

December 2009 Newsletter

- Philippson Family Foundation visits APOPO Headquarters in Tanzania - Surprise your friends and family with a HeroRAT for the Holidays! - UK Supporters could help APOPO win a prize of £1000 this December! - Endeavor Explorers Scout Troop supports HeroRATs as chosen charity - Meet our Lab Technician, Solomon Mickson

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I hope this holiday season finds you warm and well. For us at APOPO, it’s a great time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year and look forward to the future. We are pleased to announce that in the month of November ten rats completed their final tests in landmine training. This brings our numbers to 59 rats trained for landmine detection this year (through November)!

Last month, we were honored to host the Philippson family in Tanzania and are excited to have the opportunity to further work with them on developing our projects and potential. Their foundation has been instrumental in helping APOPO develop strategy and capacity and we are grateful for their guidance and support.

‘Tis the holiday season and many are looking for creative and alternative gifts to share with loved ones and friends. You can share your passion for the work of our Herorats by adopting a HeroRAT for your friends or family this season. (There is also an interesting opportunity for our UK supporters who were considering making a donation this month, see more below). Your support and enthusiasm mean a great deal to our work and each of us. We know that the economic climate has many a bit worried this holiday. If you are in a position to give gifts, please consider supporting a HeroRAT for nephews, nieces, friends and/or loved ones. If that is not a possibility please know that spreading the word about our work is also a great way to contribute and much appreciated as well.

Finally, meet one of our TB laboratory technicians, Solomon Mickson, for a chance to meet one of APOPO’s up-and-coming employees! Thank you for your constant support and being part of our growth over this exciting year. We wish you a happy holiday season and a new year of joy! Warm Wishes,

The HeroRAT team

Philippson Family Foundation visits APOPO Headquarters in Tanzania This November, APOPO was delighted to receive a visit from the Philippson family, represented by Marie and Alain, their daughter Françoise and their grand children. The Philippson Family Foundation has helped APOPO tremendously in the last two years, through a capacity building grant, which focused largely on strategic planning. The mission of the Marie and Alain Philippson Foundation is to support social entrepreneurs, strengthen their organizations and help them enhance their social impact. To achieve its goal, the Foundation has adopted a committed partner approach. The Foundation provides financial support and tailored advice to the organizations of it’s choosing to help develop leadership and the capacity to create change. The visit in Tanzania was a wonderful experience, both for the Philippson Family and for APOPO staff and management. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to meet APOPO supporters such as the Philippson Family face-to-face, and look forward to seeing them again and meeting new supporters in the future.

Surprise your friends and family with a HeroRAT for the Holidays! Looking for a great alternative gift this holiday season? Here are the top five reasons to adopt a HeroRAT for your friends and family:

1. It’s fun, a creative surprise (who would ever suspect a rat for the holidays!), and it’s educational too! 2. We will send a personalized email to your lucky gift recipient announcing the gift from you and including a certificate of adoption, letter from your chosen HeroRAT, and a picture of your hero! 3. Gift recipients can keep up-to-date on their rat’s progress and accomplishments and share them with friends (which means you’ll get to share in their joy as well). 4. Supporting our shared adoption program means you help several of our furry friends make their way in the world of TNT or TB detection. Your contributions help support the training, vet check-ups, diet and loving care our HeroRATs receive. 5. Finally, it’s only 5 euros per month (roughly $7.50) to help us eradicate the dangers posed by landmines and curb the spread of Tuberculosis!

You can get more information on giving the gift of a HeroRAT here, or feel free to send us an email at You can also get more information on tax-affective giving here. Just don’t wait too long as all orders for HeroRATS must be in by December 22nd to be delivered via email before December 25th.

UK Supporters could help APOPO win a prize of £1000 this December! is offering the opportunity for projects that raise £2000 or more this December via the UK Global Giving site the chance for a bonus prize and prominent marketing. The additional outreach would help us introduce APOPO to more people in the UK who are not yet familiar with our work. Plus, we will be in the running for a bonus prize of £1000! If you are a supporter in the UK and were considering making a donation to APOPO this holiday season, please think about doing so via the and your money could potentially go even farther, which would help Apopo achieve that much more., is an internationally recognized marketplace for philanthropy that connects individual donors to the causes they care about. Your contribution to this special campaign has the opportunity to make an even bigger impact on saving lives and limbs in Tanzania, Mozambique and beyond!

Endeavor Explorers Scout Troop supports HeroRATs as chosen charity The HeroRAT program is excited to announce our newest partnership with Endeavor Explorers Scout Troop from Sutton Coldfield, UK! The Endeavor Explorers, a troop of about 50 scouts, have elected the HeroRATs as their chosen charity and have undertaken some major awareness and fundraising projects on behalf of the rats! These creative kids, together with their leaders John and Jo Garvey and Tim Taylor, have so far raised over £540 for the HeroRAT cause with concerts, bag packing and coffee mornings. Here, Sam, Jack, Lydia, Sarah, and Will pose for a picture after selling coffee for our cause. The HeroRAT team is honored to be their chosen charity and grateful for all of our supporters contributions and dedication!

Meet our Lab Technician, Solomon Mickson Solomon Mickson is a laboratory technician who joined APOPO just over a year ago. He is passionate about improving healthcare for all Tanzanians and excited to work for an organization that addresses a major disease. Originally from Mbeya, his father was a tailor and his mother worked at home on the large family farm, along with his five brothers and one sister. In 1999, Solomon attended college at the Institute of Technology in Dar es Salaam and, after working as a laboratory technician in a match factory for three years, came to study, with the help of his older brothers, at Sokoine University of Agriculture. Here he received his B.S. in Biotechnology and Laboratory Science, before starting work at APOPO. His goal is to help improve Tanzanians’ access to medical care and treatment, which is why he chose to work in APOPO’s tuberculosis lab. In the future, he hopes to get a Masters degree and further his knowledge base. On a more personal side, Solomon hopes to marry soon and eventually have two boys and one girl. Down the road, he would like to have a farm and raise cows, just like his family back in Mbeya.

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