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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
Chun and his family
Chun and his family

Cambodia is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world, the result of 3 decades of conflict which persisted until the late 1990’s.  The impact of these weapons is long lasting and devastating. Landmines keep people poor and their presence stands in the way of socio-economic growth for communities living in contaminated environments. Mines prevent access to land for agriculture, resettlement and other infrastructure developments such as roads, schools and water catchment ponds.

Removing mines is therefore essential for the lives and livelihoods of the Cambodian population.

Sadly, for many people in Cambodia, living with the threat of landmines is a daily occurrence. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees, Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.

APOPO along with local partner the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is conducting humanitarian landmine clearance projects in Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap Provinces targeting the most mine-affected villages in order to return mine-free land back to communities where it makes the biggest impact.

 Chun’s Story

Chun is a farmer with eight children. He has worked his farm the whole of his life.

During the war we endured many battles near and on our land. It was a very frightening time. There were soldiers everywhere, either resting or fighting. We saw things we would like to forget.

When the war finished it became peaceful for us and all the other families in the area. But our land was not the same. There were unexploded bombs in our field. Many were lying on the ground, but lots were hidden in undergrowth or under the earth. It was very dangerous but we had to keep working in the fields to feed ourselves. I was so terrified for my children. I forbade them to go to the fields, but the explosives are everywhere. What if they stood on a landmine or picked up an old bomb?

For many people like Chun, it is not just the fear of standing on a landmine, but the financial impact often shared throughout the community.

We have lived like this for a long time and there are accidents in the community. We have lost a lot of our precious livestock, which puts us in big financial trouble. Sometimes someone gets hurt. This is terrible for the family and the community as a whole.  The family is thrown into financial crisis especially if the person injured is a worker or head of the family. The community meanwhile gets terrified all over again.

 Thanks to your support, help came

Six months ago APOPO and CMAC arrived with what they called an ‘EOD’ team and they called everyone together to explain how they can help. EOD means ‘Explosive Ordnance Disposal’. They showed us pictures of what old bombs, bullets and landmines look like and explained that if we find them, we should immediately stop what we are doing, move everyone away and call them. Then they will come and remove the dangerous item. We were very happy about this and almost immediately we started calling them. They were run off their feet!

One Less Bomb to Hurt my Family

I myself had not called them until today. My daughter Charya was climbing a tree and she noticed something sticking out of the earth. She ran to get me and I left her at home and went to see. It looked very suspicious.

I called the EOD team and they arrived straight away. They told us to stay away and they went to the tree. They found an old mortar bomb and they used metal detectors to check all around the spot in case there was more.

The Team Leader told me that long ago a farmer must have found it in a field and moved it away under the tree out of his way. It could have blown up in his hands, but in those days there was no EOD team!

All the nearby families had come to see what was happening and the EOD team gave us all another safety lesson. Everyone is scared again! But at least that is one more dangerous bomb off my land. One less bomb to hurt my family.

 We all want to rid our land of landmines as soon as possible and together with our HeroRATs we will get there faster!

 Thank you for your support.

 

Chun's Daughter
Chun's Daughter
Handing Land Back
Handing Land Back
Education
Education

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August, Community Leader of Nyazvitanda District
August, Community Leader of Nyazvitanda District

Due to your kind and generous support, we are thrilled to announce that APOPO will soon be saving lives in Colombia.

Second in the World for Landmine Casualties

Colombia's landmine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) problem is the result of more than five decades of conflict with non-state armed groups. Up until December 2016, the official government record states there have been a total of 11,460 landmine casualties, of which, 2,266 people died and 9,194 were injured. This places Colombia second in the world only to Afghanistan in terms of landmine casualties.

APOPO is proud to announce that it has opened a landmine detection program in Colombia. APOPO has recently registered as an NGO in the country and has asked the Colombian government to consider the use of APOPO's innovative landmine detection rats as effective detectors of minimal-metal landmines.

Your Support is Saving Lives

Thanks to your generosity, APOPO and the HeroRATs were very successful in clearing landmines in Mozambique.

August, who is the Community Leader of Nyazvitanda District in the Macate region, Manica province in central Mozambique, wants to share his experience of APOPO with you:

“The landmines caused us a lot of problems and pain. People within our community became disabled and some died through landmine accidents.

Once a farmer found a mine and took it home to show to his children. It exploded in their house. After the news of this tragedy went around, we were all terrified. The landmines cut us off from important resources such as water and fertile land that we used to farm. We are not rich people. Our land and livestock are our assets, so if you take these away, or we become injured, our ability to provide for our families is also lost.

APOPO cleared the mines very methodically and efficiently. They used big machines and people with metal detectors. They even used rats that could smell the mines. We were impressed because we thought of rats as dirty pests. But these ones were clever and found the mines very quickly. When APOPO finished they organized a handover ceremony. They told us that the land was now free of all known landmines! We were so happy. APOPO walked on the land to show us it was safe. They believed in their people and rats, so we believed it too. Since then we are back working the land and producing to support our families.”

We need your help

We want to take our success from Mozambique and help people in Colombia to live free from the scourge of landmines.

"APOPO is very excited and looking forward to our HeroRats coming to Colombia to assist in the efforts to rid the country of its landmine legacy and allow mine affected communities to once again live without fear of these deadly weapons." – Tekimiti Gilbert, APOPO Program Manager MA Colombia

Please continue to help us save lives.

Thank you from us all.

Tekimiti Gilbert, APOPO Program Manager Colombia
Tekimiti Gilbert, APOPO Program Manager Colombia
HeroRAT in Mozambique
HeroRAT in Mozambique
Sniffing out deadly landmines
Sniffing out deadly landmines
August Family
August Family

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Claudi Feeling Better
Claudi Feeling Better

HeroRAT TB Detection Facility OPEN

We are thrilled to announce that the HeroRAT TB Detection Facility in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is now open!  The new facility will now deliver APOPO results within 24 hours so patients get them when they return to clinic for their standard results, vastly increasing the number of people getting on treatment.  

There are 10 TB-detecting HeroRATs working at the lab alongside 12 staff made up of rat handlers and lab technicians.

TB kills more people than any other infectious disease

Despite being curable and preventable, tuberculosis is a deadly infection of the lungs that kills about 1.8 million every year, including 400,000 among people with HIV. Over 30% of all estimated TB cases are not detected or treated properly.

Enter the HeroRATs

APOPO offers fast innovative TB diagnostics in the form of African giant pouched rats, nicknamed HeroRATs. The HeroRATs can check an incredible 100 samples in around 20 minutes. This would take a lab technician in a public clinic up to four days. Since 2007 the APOPO HeroRATs have helped increase clinic detection rates by over 40%. In the past, due to APOPO’s distance from Dar es Salaam, patients often dropped out of the system before the APOPO results could be delivered, and missed out on life saving TB treatment.

APOPO inactivates the incoming samples using heat treatment in an autoclave. This ensures that the sputum is not contagious for the trainers and the rats.

APOPO HeroRATs Saved My Life

Claudi is six years old. Last year he was very sick and the local clinic did not know why until APOPO HeroRATs detected his illness as TB. They saved his life.

Claudi lives with his parents and 6 brothers and sisters in 3 tiny rooms in a little house in Dar Es Salaam. Last year both his parents and one of his sisters became very ill. They were all diagnosed with Tuberculosis. Then he started coughing and had a high fever. He also began feeling very tired. His parents took him to the hospital for a TB test but it was negative. Everyone was very worried but nobody knew what the problem was.

“My mom got a call from a lady called Lulu who told her that I was TB positive. She said that APOPO’s HeroRATs had retested my sample! We were very surprised. We thought rats were dirty and they stole our food. But thanks to the APOPO HeroRATs I could finally start treatment for TB.”

Claudi is feeling much better now and has found a new fondness for rats.

You're Awesome

By donating to APOPO, you have done a wonderful thing and helped to save the life of people like Claudi.

About 9 million people are diagnosed with TB every year. The HeroRATs and APOPO are continuing to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world overcome this disease, but we can't do this without your continued support.

Thank you from us all.

To see how HeroRATs detect TB, please watch our video here: How HeroRATs Detect TB

Claudi with his family
Claudi with his family
Claudi back at school
Claudi back at school
HeroRAT and trainer
HeroRAT and trainer
Opening ceremony
Opening ceremony

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Many Items Found
Many Items Found

Location: Maputo, Mozambique

Items Destroyed: 39,000 items of UXO

Weight: 80 Tons

Returned Land to Local Communities: 11,463,861 square meters

Since late 2015, APOPO has been carrying out controlled bulk demolitions as an integral part of its unexploded ordnance (UXO) and ammunitions clearance in the Malhazine Complex in Maputo, Mozambique. APOPO has safely executed 17 bulk demolitions destroying 80 tons.

Mozambique's Mine History

Mozambique’s landmine problem was once one of the most severe in the world, with a legacy of landmines and explosive remnants of war from decades of conflict. Tens of thousands of landmines were laid in the country during its 1964-1975 fight for independence and throughout the civil war that followed.

Living in Fear - Sam’s Story

Sam is a farmer and community leader in Mozambique whose community has been terrorised by hidden land-mines left over from the war 30 years ago. He told us about his experience of living in fear:

“My family lives near pylons that were mined in the civil war to protect them from sabotage. My friend was killed trying to retrieve his cow from the mined field. Sometimes we had to take risks and farm the land or cross it for a shortcut.  I found my children playing there.

Then APOPO arrived to clear the fields. They used machines, manual deminers and mine detection rats. At some pylons, they found no mines, at others there were many. 

The pylons were protected by ‘terror’ - a terror my children have lived with all their lives and that somewhere APOPO is reducing every day.  Our land is once again ours to farm and our children are safe.” 

 Dangerous Work

Some items are highly degraded and fused making them quite dangerous and unstable while others are un-fused and appear in relatively good condition. APOPO is on an on-going basis organizing and preparing these items for safe destruction. Due to the trauma the local community suffered during the two main explosions in 1985 and 2007, APOPO is not permitted to make in situ demolitions, as it would result in mass panic in the densely populated areas directly around Malhazine. For this reason, APOPO makes the demolitions at the designated Central Demolition Site (CDS), in Moamba about 70km from APOPO's operations in Malhazine.

Future Operations

At this time, APOPO is actively fundraising to resume ammunitions clearance operations in 2017. APOPO has been tasked by the IND & CIPEM to clear two additional areas in the Malhazine Complex, and hopes to soon have sufficient funding confirmed to begin working on the new tasks in January.

 Thank you for your support. We are very appreciative.

Sam Mucavelli - Farmer and Community Leader
Sam Mucavelli - Farmer and Community Leader
Free from Fear
Free from Fear
HeroRATs Sniffing Out Mines
HeroRATs Sniffing Out Mines

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Cambodian HeroRAT
Cambodian HeroRAT

The HeroRATs in Cambodia have helped our partner CMAC complete clearance of a second minefield since they were deployed at the beginning of the year.

Location: Khnar Phtoul Village, Srae Nouy Commune, Siem Reap

Area: 95,522 m2 (approx. 9 soccer pitches)

Total time taken: 30 operational days

What was found?

  • 6 landmines
  • 3 unexploded mortar bombs

HeroRats Saving Lives

Eight families, totaling around 40 people, have lived next door to the landmines for the last 25 years and have been forced to sometime farm on unsafe land in order to feed themselves. They are already getting on with the serious business of growing rice crops on the newly safe land.

The whole village were overjoyed at being free from the dangers of mines The Village Chief wanted to share his appreciation:

“On the behalf of the village authority as well as all the families in our community, I would just like to say a very big thank you to the APOPO/CMAC teams and the donors that support them. I commend them all for their bravery. We are so grateful that they have returned our land to us completely free from landmines. It has been difficult for me to watch our community struggling to develop and living in constant fear. All of us are eager to get back to tilling the land and providing for our families.”

Vorn Saveith, Village Chief, Khnar Phtoul village

Thank you HeroRATS!

13 Mine Detection Rats were deployed alongside CMAC demining teams. These HeroRATs are the ‘landmine detectors’ that significantly speed up landmine clearance because they are trained to detect only explosive scent which means they ignore the scrap metal that slows down metal detectors on their way to the landmines.

As ever our hats go off to the brave individuals carrying out this dangerous work.

HeroPUPS

Three new rat pups have been born via the APOPO breeding program, which is gearing up for imminent APOPO program expansion.  There is a lot going on right now and because it takes around 9 months to fully train a HeroRAT, the breeding program is ramping up its activities to ensure that we are ready for future needs.

Last week three new pups were born to Avatar and her mate Gamble.  A rat litter is generally between two and five pups that remain with their mother for 3-5 weeks before they begin their socialization process. This begins with a week of ever-increasing periods away from their mother, to play with Uncle Albert (our resident rat socializer). After this they are fully separated from their mother and spend another week of socialization with rat trainers, before their scent detection training formally begins. This initial socialization period gets them used to working with people and ensures that they are comfortable with being handled, and that the everyday smells and hubbub of the modern environment in which they will soon work will not interfere with their subsequent training.

A warm welcome to our newest Heroes!

Thank you for your support!

 

Kind regards,

The HeroRat Team

Baby HeroPUPS
Baby HeroPUPS

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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
$551,432 raised of $750,000 goal
 
10,902 donations
$198,568 to go
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