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
Planting seedlings around the former minefield.
Planting seedlings around the former minefield.

Thank you so much for your continued support last quarter! Your support has contributed to some incredible achievements, and we hope you enjoy reading about the highlights of your incredible investment into APOPO's work.

Excitingly, on January 14th, APOPO and the Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC) participated in a ceremony to hand over the last minefield cleared during 2020!  Over the last 5 years APOPO’s innovative working methods in Cambodia have proven to be reliable and much more cost-efficient compared to traditional manual landmine clearance techniques. We even exceeded our target goal for 2020 by 25%, clearing a total of 4,389,935 square meters of land over the course of the year! There is still much to do, Cambodia has some of the world’s highest mine and UXO casualty rates, but with your help, we know we can do it.

We are also delighted to report that we have received a huge boost to our efforts to eradicate landmines in Angola from the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BMFA). Angola has one of the highest casualty rates of any landmine-affected country, so we will continue to seek funding for this vital work, in order to meet the 2025 target by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) deadline of 2025.

HeroRATs training to help fight illegal wildlife trafficking

HeroRATs have proved their ability to detect illegally trafficked pangolin scales (the world’s most widely trafficked mammal) and African hardwoods. Our team was thrilled to see a group of rats successfully indicate these while ignoring common items used to mask their smell in shipping containers! Together, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) of South Africa, APOPO is now exploring the inclusion of additional wildlife products, while developing unique deployment strategies to position the rats where they are needed most.

We hope that you enjoy seeing the impact of your donations, as much as we do - none of this would be possible without support, such as yours. Thank you.

This week, we are taking part in GlobalGiving’s Little x Little campaign, where from the 8th March until the 12th March, your donations are match funded. If you donate this week, before Friday 12th March, your donation will be automatically increased by 50%! 

Giving back the land - last minefield cleared 2020
Giving back the land - last minefield cleared 2020
HeroRATs training to stop wildlife trafficking
HeroRATs training to stop wildlife trafficking

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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.
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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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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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Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
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Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Emma Mortiboy
Morogoro, Tanzania, United Republic of
$714,404 raised of $1,000,000 goal
 
13,993 donations
$285,596 to go
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