Team News Feed


Our Adopted Rats

Name: Ikemba

Job: Mine Detection Rat

Meet Our Past Rats: Nala and our beloved Cheeky who is now watching us from above.

Recycling Funds

2012: $105.63

2013: $118.63

2014: $56.45

Featured Team Members

Quarterly Update from Cheeky

Hello friend,
Greetings from the TB Detection Center in sunny Tanzania! I am on a break from my training, and just couldn’t wait to fill you in on everything I’ve been doing here. 
After a bumpy ride from the breeding kennels at APOPO’s headquarters, to the Tuberculosis Detection Facility a few kilometers away, I settled into my brand-new kennel and felt ready to start my important work as a TB Detection rat. And it all began when I met my trainer, Tony. Tony is one of the newest HeroRAT trainers here in Tanzania, and I am one of the newest TB Detection rats – so we both knew it would be a great fit.
After we got to know each other a little, Tony started me on a process called “click training.” He told me there would be food involved, so I was enthusiastic right away. But the first time we practiced, I admit I was a little confused! Tony placed me in a clean glass cage, and for a few minutes, I ran around, sniffing excitedly before I wondered what came next. Finally, I heard a loud “click” noise from the side of the cage, and before I knew it, Tony was handing me a delicious cocktail of banana, avocado, and rat chow (if you ever get the chance to try this delicacy, I recommend it)!
It didn’t take long for me to realize that whenever I heard this “click” noise, all I had to do was run to Tony’s side of the cage to get my reward. When Tony thought I was ready, he moved me to an even tougher stage, called “one hole” training.
At “one hole” training, I was introduced to the delicate bouquet of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tony would place me in the same glass cage, but this time, there would be a sample pot with the smell of TB beneath one of the holes at the bottom. Whenever I wandered near the sample, I’d hear the familiar “click,” and I’d run over to Tony to get my treat.
But now, he is a bit tougher on me. Before I can graduate from this stage, he insists that I must practice concentrating, and keep my nose in or above the hole long enough for me to prove to him that I really know what I’m doing. It’s tough – I know that he’s waiting for me with banana at the ready, so sometimes I get carried away and run for a treat before it’s been long enough. But I am a young rat, and still learning my craft!
Soon, I will have graduated and move on to the next stage – in no time at all, I will be proudly serving as a second-line screen for TB patients in Tanzania. How exciting is that? And I could not do this important work without your important help! Thank you for your support, and stay tuned until I write to you next.
Love and whiskers,
Cheeky the HeroRAT

Waimea Valley Volunteer Day & Shoe Drive Wrap Up

I'd been excited to come to Waimea as this was the first time I'd ever been in the valley. I'm so glad Janet mentioned that they had done a cub scout project there earlier which sparked the idea for us to go. I grabbed my best friend, packed the Jeep and arrived about 30 minutes early. We got to see Peacocks walking all over like they owned the place and in crazy high trees. People then started to arrive and Hoku, our volunteer organizer, came out to greet us. I didn't find out till later in the day that it was actually supposed to be his day off, but he hooked us up anyway and came in so we could volunteer...just off a vacation no less!

So from the main entry Hoku told us we'd be heading back in to the valley to clear debris from one area that had recently been flooded. We started it off with a Hawaiian prayer and he gave us some insider knowledge on the area and about the cool birds that live there (one was so endangered there are only 300 left and these birds were just flying around...crazy!)

We stopped to pick up tools and gloves then walked back to the work area. He gave us instructions to pick up debris, garbage, leaves, anything covering the base of the plants. The goal was to keep the roots from being crowded and harming the plants (paraphrasing here).

Once we started, we scattered and created 4 or 5 piles where we dragged our bounty to be picked up later by a truck. It was nice working in an area that wasn't in the public path (I didn't realize this was such a popular tourist spot there were lots of busses and people coming through)

After about 1.5 hours we called it a day and Hoku took us on a short tour and walked us up to the waterfall where we were free to wander the grounds for as long as we wished.

When we got the waterfall many brave souls jumped right in (myself not included) to the freezing iceberg water.

It was a fantastic day! View the photo gallery.

On another note, I've wrapped up the shoe drive. Thanks everyone for participating! We kept a good amount of shoes out of the landfill that can now be recycled to make new playground surfaces.

Next up, not sure yet, anyone have any ideas they'd like to do for another drive? Coin jar? Food drive? Blood donation?


March Event: Waimea Valley Hi'ipaka LLC 

Our next volunteer event will be at Waimea Valley. Thanks to Janet for the idea. I'm sending this out now so I can get a headcount of who will be attending. I've estimated 20 volunteers so feel free to invite others that may wish to come and let me know how many you are expecting.

Date: Sunday March 18th
Time: 10-1

Location: Across from Waimea Bay

For a safe and productive day, please prepare your group as follows:
√ Proper attire includes closed-toe shoes and clothes that can get dirty or wet
(Note: Crocs are not acceptable footwear)
√ Light rain gear is suggested as the weather is unpredictable in Waimea Valley
√ Bring a water bottle and sun protection
√ Project will begin and end promptly at agreed upon times
√ Group responsible for its own safety at all times while in the Valley
√ Once the project is complete, group may enjoy Waimea Valley on its own time and under its own supervision
√ Groups with minors must have 1 responsible adult chaperone for every 5 minors

Activities may include simple maintenance such as:

* Working in one of the gardens
* Working in the nursery
* Clearing ponds and streams
* Raking
* Invasive vine removal

If anyone wants to carpool or needs a ride that would otherwise be unable to attend, let me know.