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Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

by APOPO vzw
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Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions
Support APOPO's rats in their life-saving missions

Welcome to our first project update of 2020 where we’ll be focussing on our tuberculosis (TB) operations given our latest, exciting news: 9 new TB detection rats are ready for deployment.

The first three months of the year have seen our Training and Innovation team working flat out to get 9 new TB detection rats ready for operations abroad. Thanks to your support we've been able to train these additional HeroRATs to bolster our tuberculosis detection offering, but do you know how it's done?

It takes roughly 9 months to train a HeroRAT in TB detection. When young, our rats are regularly handled and socialised in order to ensure they become at ease in their surroundings and with people. They are regularly handled by trained staff and introduced to everyday sounds and smells.

As training progresses, the rats are trained to associate the sound of a click with a reward; when they near a sputum sample they hear a click and receive some banana - one of their favourite treats! Once able to identify a sputum sample they move on to learn how to distinguish between TB positive and TB negative samples; they will only hear a click and receive a reward if they interact with the TB positive sample.

As a final stage of training, our rats are exposed to 10 samples at a time beneath sniffing holes in one of our line cages. As they move along the cage our rats are trained to hold their noses over TB positive samples for 2-3 seconds.

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The World Health Organisation's latest statistics confirm that in 2018 a total of 1.5 million people died from TB and an estimated 10 million people fell ill with the disease. Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent. 

With TB being both curable, and preventable, it's vital that we continue our valuable work in not only TB detection, but also training and innovation - your support is vital to our cause. In spite of our successes, much work remains to realise a world free of mines and TB. We are forging ahead through the course of 2020 with a renewed focus on the continuation of our efforts to bring good health, security, peace and the chance of development to the communities within which we work. With your continued support, we will be able to do so.

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On that note, GlobalGiving's Little by Little campaign is fast approaching and you'll be able to make your donations go further. 

Between 09:00:00 ET on March, 23, 2020 through 23:59:00 ET on March, 27, 2020 all eligible donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% at no extra cost to you. 

Keep your eyes peeled for our further project appeal email on March, 23, 2020.


Thank you for your incredible support for our work. 

APOPO colleague Marygiven preparing sputum samples
APOPO colleague Marygiven preparing sputum samples
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Landmine Detection : HeroRATs Arrive in Cambodia
Landmine Detection : HeroRATs Arrive in Cambodia

Another year has almost passed and my, what a year.

Thanks to your support we’ve been able to achieve so much and positively affect so many people across the world. Let’s take a nostalgic few moments to review some key moments from 2019.


On January 16th, 2019 we, alongside our partner Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC), were thrilled to announce the completion of a minefield in Dai Ao village of the Sre Noi Commune in Varin District. A handover ceremony was held to release 520,257 square meters of land back to the community.

In February 2019 we reached a landmark - 250,000 patients with signs and symptoms of tuberculosis (TB) retested since the TB programme began in 2007. "Our experiences from Mozambique and Tanzania show that it takes both speedy testing and community health worker support to make ‘Find & Treat’ come true for more and more patients.” - Dr Lena Fiebig, APOPO Head of Tuberculosis

In March 2019 we celebrated World TB Day - a day which educates the public on the massive burden caused by TB globally and calls on governments, civil society organizations, communities and others to step up efforts to jointly end TB.

In April 2019 we celebrated International Landmine Awareness Day reflecting upon our work and celebrating the achievements of our staff, partners, and landmine detection animals. We also welcomed 10 new landmine detection HeroRATs to their new home in Cambodia (thanks to the support of the People's Postcode Lottery) providing much-needed capacity to operations in Cambodia.

In May 2019 three HeroRATs moved to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa act as ambassadors for our work and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations

In June and July 2019 a video about our work developed by the South China Morning Post (SPMC) received over half a million views, furthering the knowledge of our work and impact throughout the world.

On August 5th, 2019 our TB detection team in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was happy to host Second Secretary Kim Wilkinson from the Australian High Commission in Kenya at our Tuberculosis (TB) laboratory in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania. The Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) supported APOPO from January 2018 through July 2019 and the DAP grant allowed us to train six new young African giant pouched rats for our TB Detection program.

In September 2019 our very own Dr Georgies Mgode attended workshop titled 'Beyond the standard: Non-model vertebrates in biomedicine' in Berlin, Germany, where researchers from more than 20 countries gathered to share their experiences. Dr Mgode shared research experiences presenting African giant pouched rats and olfactory based medical application.

In October 2019 24 landmine detection rats boarded their first international flight for Cambodia. The rats arrived safely on Wednesday, October 23rd, raising the number of rats in our Cambodia program to 50.

On November 29th, 2019 we held a handover ceremony with residents of Trapeang Krasang, in Siem Reap Province, releasing 788,257 square meters of land that were cleared during August, September and October 2019 with over 170 anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) found and destroyed. The land was delivered back to 19 families from the village.

On December 10th, 2019 we celebrated Human Rights Day 2019 reflecting on the fact that human rights should be enjoyed by everyone. We took time to remember that our work is connected to human rights because landmines deprive thousands of people of their fundamental rights, such as safety, security and freedom of movement.

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The above is just a snapshot of all of the things we've been able to achieve, contribute to, and celebrate throughout 2019. It's thanks to your support that we're able to continue our fight against landmines and tuberculosis, whilst continuing valuable research and development into projects for the future.

As 2019 draws to a close, here's to 2020. Here's to working together to changes the lives of beneficiaries across the world.

We wish you a very Happy New Year to you, your family, and your friends. 

Tuberculosis Detection : Preparation of Samples
Tuberculosis Detection : Preparation of Samples
Landmine Detection : Tree Planting Ceremony
Landmine Detection : Tree Planting Ceremony
Tuberculosis Detection : A Beneficiary Named Asma
Tuberculosis Detection : A Beneficiary Named Asma
Landmine Detection : A HeroRAT and Handler
Landmine Detection : A HeroRAT and Handler
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Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.
Celine at Point Defiance Zoo, Washington.

Hello and thank you for your continued support. We're delighted to bring you the following update on Q3 of 2019 which has certainly been busy for humans and HeroRATs alike!

APOPO's HeroRATs make it in America

In July 2019 we were thrilled to introduce three very important ambassadors who travelled all the way from Tanzania to the United States - more specifically - to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, which was the first zoo to demonstrate to the American public how HeroRATs save lives through mock landmine detection training demonstrations.

HeroRATs Celine, Chiku and Mona Lisa took three flights to get to their new home at Tacoma, Washington in May. Before leaving they received all their vaccinations, and the long journey from Africa to America was broken up into shorter segments with regular checks along the way. They travelled thousands of miles away from home and took it all in stride. Yet again, the HeroRATs showed us how resilient they are as a species.

After getting ample time to rest up in quarantine under close monitoring from Zoo veterinarians, the rats were introduced to their new homes and their zoo caretakers. Once they were comfortable with the team and happy in their environment they were gradually introduced to short training sessions for their mock landmine training demonstration routines before having their debut in front of zoo visitors on July 20th.

Cultural Celebrations in Tanzania

The first week of August brought a celebration of agriculture in Tanzania and APOPO participated alongside partner the Sokoine University of Agriculture. The week celebrated important contributions from farmers to the Tanzanian economy and showcases new technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions that will help to improve the agricultural sector. Companies, NGOs, farmers, regional and local officials as well as the general public are drawn to see the latest developments and opportunities. The HeroRATs attracted a lot of attention and shone a spotlight on the lifesaving work APOPO does.

In Tanzania, rats are generally considered a destructive pest, ruining crops and getting into food stores. In fact, most farmers will usually try to get rid of them when found on their land. It’s always good to have the opportunity to show people that rats are intelligent creatures that are very capable of saving lives. The exhibition allowed APOPO to inform local communities about the rats, but also the issues they are helping to solve such as the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) and breaking the stigma that is associated with the disease. Highlights were a visit from the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Japhet Hasunga and also the Acting Regional Medical Officer of Simiyu Dr. Maeka who expressed great interest in our TB detection research.

APOPO presents HeroRATs at CITES Conference

Between 17-28 August 2019, our partner Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa and APOPO attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Geneva, Switzerland. CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The objective of the Convention is to conserve wildlife and prevent international trade from pushing species into extinction.

APOPO established a partnership with the EWT in 2016 to collaborate on a proof-of-concept research study to examine the abilities of the HeroRATs to detect the world’s most widely trafficked mammal, pangolin, as well as illegally logged and trafficked African hardwood. APOPO has finished the first phase of the study successfully showing that the rats are not only able to sniff out pangolin scales and hardwood but that they can differentiate them from common masking items.

With international momentum to tackle illegal wildlife trade continuing to grow, over 2200 participants met at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). APOPO’s Dr Miriam Schneider travelled to Geneva to attend the conference and was given the unique opportunity to present the findings of the study at a side event of the conference: “Harnessing tools and technologies for wildlife law enforcement”.

Dr Schneider was able to promote APOPO’s work on a broad international platform and gain a better grasp of the current situation and developments in the wildlife trade. It also offered a chance to network with wildlife law enforcement officials and NGOs that could help to decide possible future methods for the rats to combat trafficking in real-life settings.

Little by Little Successes

In September 2019 we participated in Global Giving's Little by Little campaign which saw an outpouring of donations via the platform. Our incredible donors raised us to pole position where we stayed until closing which meant we won an additional $4,000 in bonus payments from Global Giving meaning the total amount raised was $21,635! We cannot thank you enough for the generous donations received, all of which will go towards funding the lifesaving work we carry out on a daily basis. 

Thank you for being wonderful supporters.


APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO staff show off HeroRATs at agriculture shows
APOPO's Dr Schneider presents at CITES conference
APOPO's Dr Schneider presents at CITES conference
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As we referenced in our last project update, Global Giving's July Bonus Day TODAY and we wanted to remind you of the opportunity to make your donation count for more, without any extra cost to you.

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For TODAY ONLY from 09:00:00 ET to 23:59:59 ET your eligible donations from $100 to $1000 will be matched whilst $250,000 in matching funds remain. 

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Your donations through Global Giving go directly towards supporting our HeroRATs as they carry out their lifesaving missions across the world. With so many countries still facing the threat of landmines and tuberculosis, your continued support is of great importance to us as we continue our fight against these indiscriminate killers. 

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The work you fund goes to support people like Historia and you can read her story below:

"I remember growing up during the war. Those were terrifying times, so much violence, hatred, death, and destruction. I thought it would never end. When it was over in 2002 all we wanted was to return to normality. Instead, we found we could not go home because the land was not safe. Landmines were buried by the Angolan Armed Forces to defend the village of Quitexe. Paths, roads, fields and bridges had been mined. You’d think war was painful enough, so many people lost everything. Yet we continued living in fear of injury or death from a landmine or losing crucial livestock.

I am thankful for the work that APOPO and the HeroRATs have done. This community is finally safe. I am really happy and excited. Children play and go to school freely without us having to worry all the time. Safe access to the village also means more traders will come, allowing us to sell produce at good prices. I know that the future will be bright for us. Life in Quitexe is returning to normal. I hope that my youngest child will grow up not even knowing what a landmine is.”

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On behalf of Historia, and all of us here at APOPO, thank you for your incredible support.

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Historia's land is safe thanks to donors like you.
Historia's land is safe thanks to donors like you.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
An Angola HeroRAT with trainer in the field.
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New HeroRATs for Angola (photo Allan Staley)
New HeroRATs for Angola (photo Allan Staley)

Another busy quarter has passed us by and we're delighted to bring you the following update.

Landmine Detection

This quarter was an exciting time as we celebrated not only International Landmine Awareness Day but also the accreditation of 9 new Mine Detection Rats for Cambodia. The rats arrived from Tanzania at the end of April and were warmly welcomed by the Cambodian team. 

The HeroRATs went through an intensive 6-week acclimatization and training period. This involved getting used to new sights, sounds and smells as well as getting to know their new Cambodian handlers and vice versa.

On June 12th-13th APOPO hosted representatives from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Headquarters, our long-term implementation partner in Cambodia, for external double-blind testing of the freshly trained and newly imported MDR. The two days of testing were held on a test minefield prepared by the CMAC representatives.

The accreditation is “double-blind” because both rats and the handlers are unaware of where the targets are buried, which are known only to the representatives who had them marked on a map. Each of the rats had to search a box of 200 square metres, and all of them correctly indicated the targets within a one-meter radius, with not a single one missed. This reflects the high level of mine detection skill of the MDR and their handlers as well as the quality of the breeding and training at APOPO’s Headquarters and training centre in Morogoro, Tanzania. 

Tuberculosis Detection

In March we celebrated World Tuberculosis Day with a theme of 'It's Time'. 

We took a moment to consider how APOPO researches TB detection rats which are incredibly fast: one rat can screen 100 samples in just 20 minutes. We use our rapid rats as a “failsafe” – re-evaluating human sputum samples delivered from partner clinics. A sample indicated positive by a rat undergoes confirmation testing with internationally approved tests before the result is returned to the clinic. This approach helps to increase TB case detection by about 40%.

We also considered our other activities which are also very much centred around speeding things up: our motorbike sample referral systems in Dar es Salaam, Maputo and Addis Ababa, our rapid testing and result turnaround within 24 hours and prompt action to make sure newly diagnosed patients get on with their TB treatment immediately. Beyond that, a new study has started to find out whether our TB detection rats can identify TB earlier than conventional methods. 

 

As always, it's with your incredible, ongoing support that we and our HeroRATs are able to continue in their missions. Your support allows us to look to the future and develop new humanitarian applications for the rats’ powerful sense of smell.

With the future in mind, Global Giving's July 18th Bonus Day is fast approaching and we'll be participating - we hope you can too.

On 18th July ONLY Global Giving will be matching donations from $100 to $1,000 whilst $130,000 in matching funds remain. The higher your donation, the higher the match!

We'll also be participating in Global Giving's August Little by Little campaign from 12th to 16th August and where smaller donations up to $50 will be matched at 50% and higher. More on that to follow!

From all of us here at APOPO - thank you for your support.

A Landmine Detection Rat (photo Allan Staley)
A Landmine Detection Rat (photo Allan Staley)
A TB Detection Rat
A TB Detection Rat
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Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Emma McEachan
Morogoro, Tanzania, United Republic of
$553,272 raised of $750,000 goal
 
10,947 donations
$196,728 to go
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