HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis

by APOPO vzw
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis
Volunteer, Rashidi helping with treatment
Volunteer, Rashidi helping with treatment

LAST QUARTER

The last quarter has been bittersweet. Our HeroRATs have continued their lifesaving work around the world, and as you may have seen in the news, in January, our much beloved Magawa passed away peacefully in his sleep. It was very sad, especially for the handlers and trainers who worked so closely with Magawa, but he did live to a grand old age of eight and in his memory, our supporters raised over $10,000 to help support future HeroRATs.

At our Tanzanian Training Center, we have just had a new litter of HeroPUPs born - they are still nestled up with mum and will begin the process of socialization at 4 - 5 weeks of age. Socialization means that APOPO trainers gently carry them around, introducing them to sights, sounds, smells, and noises, to adapt them to the training environment and their human trainers. Our HeroRATs are always so friendly and adaptable with people, and it is this crucial part of the training, which makes this the case.

The total landmines and other explosives cleared, and safe land released throughout last year, has benefitted both direct and indirect beneficiaries, allowing children to play freely and creating safe paths to school and work. Thank you.

COMING UP

Next month on the 24th of March, it is World Tuberculosis Day, which is where we join the thousands of other health agencies to raise awareness and promote donations to those helping in the fight against tuberculosis. Fighting tuberculosis in countries such as Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania, is more important than ever with the emergence of COVID19, adding another severe acute respiratory illness into the mix. It is more important than ever that our work detecting missed tuberculosis samples continues.

The fight to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) involves the combined efforts of clinics, programs, and volunteers working together to address the diagnosis and treatment shortfalls. APOPO's TB detection HeroRATs do their part by helping find undiagnosed cases of TB. After a positive sample has been confirmed, the partner clinic is notified so that patients can start treatment and begin feeling better. Once the clinic receives the notice of a positive diagnosis, APOPO's community partner steps in to help provide additional education and support and ensure that medications are completed. APOPO has volunteer healthcare workers who provide much-needed outreach to underserved communities and rural areas where there is a high gap from diagnosis, to linkage, to care.

Many of these volunteer healthcare workers have themselves suffered tuberculosis or provided care to families afflicted with the debilitating disease. Knowing the hardship tuberculosis imposes, they now help those in need.

Our HeroRATs detect 40% more cases of tuberculosis than microscopy alone, meaning your donation not only saves lives from the horrors of war, but also from the horrendous symptoms associated with tuberculosis. Thank you.

Warm wishes,

One of our HeroRATs at play!
One of our HeroRATs at play!
Tuberculosis handler with HeroRAT
Tuberculosis handler with HeroRAT
Harnessing up for a morning of landmine clearance
Harnessing up for a morning of landmine clearance

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William at the dairy
William at the dairy

The HeroRATs have found over 5,500 TB-positive patients originally misdiagnosed by local hospitals in Tanzania and Mozambique.  Here is one of one their stories, William M.

"I am William. I contracted TB but it was not diagnosed until tested by Apopo HeroRATs.  I work hard at a dairy to pay for my kids' school fees. I have an elderly father and 8 children to look after.  If I am sick, I can't work.  After 3 visits to the clinic without diagnosis, I became sick, thin and very worried.  My workmates became worried of co-infection because we work so closely together. Many of my friends have died from TB, it's devastating."  

"Then the clinic called to say that I had been tested TB positive by rats.  Rats! We can hardly believe it.  If the HeroRATs had not diagnosed my TB, I think I would be dead by now."

William's wife Esther says "I am very relieved that the Apopo rats found William's TB. Now he is on the mend."

From William and everyone at APOPO, thank you to all the GlobalGiving supporters we have made thousands of stories like this come true!

William and his family
William and his family
William is now healthy!
William is now healthy!
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Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

Dear APOPO Supporters,

As a donor to APOPO and GlobalGiving, we want to thank you for your support and wish you a very Happy New Year and all the best wishes in 2014!  

A quick program update on APOPO’s performance: the HeroRATs and their human colleagues continue to work hard everyday, clearing over 8 million square meters of land in Mozambique, destroying over 2,700 landmines, and detecting over 4,700 TB patients misdiagnosed by local hospitals in Tanzania and Mozambique.  

We are going to Cambodia!  In late November, APOPO signed an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia to clear landmines in Cambodia, and the HeroRATs are going to be part of this! 

APOPO and the HeroRATs are proud to have recently launched myapopo.org!  Under the direct supervision of the HeroRATs, the APOPO humans have been working hard to improve the donor experience to be a lot more fun!  At myapopo.org, donors can adopt a baby HeroRAT that they can name themselves.  Then guide its growth, development, and choose whether it detects landmines or tuberculosis patients.   The many benefits of adopting include: an adoption certificate, frequent updates on your personalized myapopo wall, fun and interesting stories, nice pictures, fun avatars and badges, social media sharing, and seeing your HeroRAT's impact after graduation.  

As a current or former donor through GlobalGiving, you are entitled to the benefits on www.myapopo.org.  If you wish be part of the fun experience, send an email to herorats@apopo.org.


myapopo.org
myapopo.org
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Full Cheeks Friday Celebration
Full Cheeks Friday Celebration

Greetings friends,

Since 2008, APOPO’s HeroRATs have been a part of the GlobalGiving community. We’ve shared our triumphs, challenges, and achievements; we’ve celebrated Bonus Days, Father’s Days, and the holidays. We've been truly honored to have your help along the way. And now, we’re very excited to announce that our project, “HeroRATs: Sniffing Out Landmines and Tuberculosis” is only a sniff away from being fully funded!

Thanks to your generous support, our GlobalGiving project has raised $248,830. That’s a lot of banana treats for the HeroRATs, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you: our 4,671 loyal friends and fans. Because you believed in our cause and were moved to help our heroes, APOPO has grown. Together, we have ensured the release of millions of feet of mine-free land to communities in Mozambique, significantly increased new TB case findings in Tanzania, and extended the reach of our life-saving efforts in new regions.

While we’re celebrating the completion of one project on GlobalGiving, we’re also excited to present a brand-new project page for our supporters: "Train HeroRATs for Life-Saving Detection Missions".

A hero’s work is never done, and this project is the new home for the same life-saving HeroRATs on GlobalGiving. We’d like to invite you to join us there for ongoing Project Reports on our work, as well as up-to-date information, fun photos, and new donation options that go towards supporting all aspects of HeroRAT-hood!

We hope you’ll continue with us on our life-saving journey, as we “Train HeroRATs for Life-Saving Detection Missions!”

With gRATitude,

The HeroRAT Team
herorats@apopo.org

www.apopo.org

www.facebook.com/herorat

www.twitter.com/herorats

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Rat and trainer
Rat and trainer

Curbing the spread of TB, one sniff at a time

Our Tuberculosis (TB) Detection Program, based in Tanzania, continues to slow the spread of TB thanks to the efforts of our human and rat staff. Our HeroRATs’ effectiveness in rapidly screening large populations is undeniable – in the month of August alone, our rats served as a second-line screen for 1,324 patients. Of these, 280 patients were already found to be TB-positive by a partner treatment center. While sniffing the sputum samples provided by the patients, the rats located an additional 30 new cases of TB that had been missed using standard microscopy, enabling these patients to be accurately diagnosed and begin life-saving treatment.

Our TB Detection Center has also been making progress in the use of the new automated line cage, which was received in July. It links up to a laptop computer and accurately measures and rewards the rats’ indications with an optical sensor.  This avoids human influence but also makes the training process more precise. Rats have taken this high-tech cage for a spin, and four of our youngest TB-detecting rats have begun training in it exclusively. If training in this new set-up continues to go smoothly, APOPO’s TB Detection Program might transition to working only with automated cages.

To learn more about our HeroRATs’ fight against this deadly killer, please visit the Tuberculosis Detection page of our website!

 

HeroRATs star on Discovery Canada’s Daily Planet

On September 15, audiences of Discovery Canada’s Daily Planet were treated to an in-depth look at the work of APOPO and the HeroRATs. The segment was featured as part of the program’s “The World is Just Awesome Week,” and saw the rats sniffing and scratching their way across the small screen while interviews with behavioral researcher Dr. Alan Poling and HeroRAT trainer John Fidelis informed the public about our work.

Over 267,000 viewers tuned in to see our rats in their element, working to rid the world of landmines and tuberculosis. The segment went a long way in showing the world that rats are not the creepy creatures some people may think they are.

As Dr. Poling explains, “A lot of people think rats are naturally bad, but rats are like people – whether they are good or bad depends on what they learn to do. And we try to teach our rats to do good things.”

In case you missed the episode and would like to see some spectacular footage of our rats learning to do some (very) good things, we’ve uploaded it to our Video page here.

 

Ashoka team visits HeroRAT HQ in Tanzania

Earlier in the month, APOPO was honored to host a visit from two members of Ashoka’s team. Valeria Merino, Ashoka’s VP for Venture, Fellowship, and Integration, paid a visit to our Tanzanian headquarters with Simon Stumpf, Senior Change Manager for Rural Innovation and Farming for Ashoka East Africa.

Ashoka is a global organization that supports leading social entrepreneurs like Bart. In introducing the work of Ashoka to diverse audiences worldwide, Valeria and her colleagues commonly use a slideshow, which features examples of the innovative social impact of their Fellows – including information on APOPO! It was after Bart saw his own HeroRATs on the big screen at a global event in Paris in June that he invited Valeria and the Ashoka team to come nose-to-nose with our rats.

Throughout their visit, Valeria and Simon were able to view firsthand the innovation that led to Bart’s selection as an Ashoka Fellow in 2006. In addition, they visited several departments of Sokoine University of Agriculture, a top agricultural university in Africa where APOPO is based. While at SUA, they had the opportunity to meet with other researchers and innovators working in the fields of agriculture and rural innovation.

APOPO and Ashoka have enjoyed five years of dynamic partnership, with Ashoka providing a great platform to spread the word about APOPO to a large community of innovators, social entrepreneurs, volunteers, and changemakers. We look forward to continuing a long and productive relationship with Ashoka and welcome them back to Tanzania anytime – karibuni tena, Valeria and Simon!


Welcome to our newest Corporate Sponsors!

We’re proud to announce that our HeroRAT Corporate Sponsorship Program is growing – and we are excited to introduce our newest sponsors! For those who are not familiar with the program, our Corporate Sponsors provide vital support to APOPO by funding the entire training costs of a HeroRAT. For 6,000 €, they cover everything from their rat’s food, to veterinary care, to the clay pots in which their rat curls up to sleep – and of course, unlimited banana treats throughout the course of training! Sponsors also obtain the exclusive opportunity to name their very own rat and receive personalized updates as their rat progresses in its training.

Earlier this quarter, we welcomed Belgium-based Rotary Club, Rotary Antwerpen Oost, to the Corporate Sponsorship program. The club is now the proud sponsor of “Rotarat,” who recently began training to become a Mine Detection Rat! We really appreciate the club’s ongoing support of APOPO.

We would also like to welcome and congratulate HeroRAT supporters Tom Kindermans and Petra Faltysova, who sponsored the full training of their own HeroRAT by collecting donations for their wedding in August. Their young rat, “PetRATom,” has also just begun mine detection training. On their desire to fundraise for APOPO on their wedding day, Tom said “We carry the HeroRAT organization in our heart!”

Many thanks to our new Corporate Sponsors as their young rats embark on their life-saving journeys!

 

A conversation with APOPO’s founder on ABC Radio

Listeners of ABC Radio’s Sunday morning program in Melbourne, Australia, recently had the opportunity to hear a conversation with APOPO’s founder, Bart Weetjens. #mce_temp_url#Host Alan Brough delved into the origins of Bart's fascination with the African continent, and how the idea of training rats to sniff out landmines originally came about.

If you missed the program and would like to learn more about APOPO’s history, click here to listen

 

UN International School promotes peace through our heroes

APOPO, on behalf of the HeroRATs, is especially grateful to the United Nations International School (UNIS) in New York City. Socially conscious and on a mission to promote peace, students chose to support HeroRATs as a like-minded recipient of their fundraising efforts! Pictured here are two representatives of the Middle School Student Council, Sahil Patel and Sarah Blau, and here’s what Sahil had to say about the students’ decision to support our heroes:

“The Middle School Student Council at the United Nations International School raised $1,000 for HeroRAT. We chose your charity because UNIS is a school of peace and HeroRAT strives to create a peaceful environment in many countries by detecting and removing landmines. During the year, we organized dances and fundraisers. We sold chocolate roses for Friendship Day and set up environmental activities for Earth Day. It was lots of fun and for such a good cause.”

APOPO sends our thanks and congratulations to the UNIS students for their incredible achievement and dedication in advocating for a more peaceful world.

 

Poverty Matters: Development in a changing world

Looking for more inspired reading on innovation? Check out Louise Stoddard’s latest post on the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog, centered around the recent development conference organized by the Development Studies Association (DSA) and the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI).

Louise notes the need for the development community to adapt to a changing world, and think outside the box in coming up with innovative solutions for the world’s big problems. Among the projects mentioned, APOPO makes an appearance as an initiative that “typifies the creative nature of modern development.” Read the full post here.

 

Thank you for following us in our life-saving adventures, and we wish you an inspired month ahead!

Warm regards,

The HeroRAT team

herorats@apopo.org

www.apopo.org

facebook.com/HeroRAT

twitter.com/HeroRATs

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Organization Information

APOPO vzw

Location: Morogoro, Tanzania - Tanzania, United Republic of
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HeroRATs
Project Leader:
Paul Delbar
Public Fundraising Manager
Sokoine University, Morogoro Tanzania, United Republic of

Funded Project!

Thanks to 4,664 donors like you, a total of $249,508 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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