Today is New Year’s Eve.

The new Chinese year – the Year of the Rat – begins tomorrow, on Saturday 25th of January 2020, with festivities kicking off tonight and continuing until the 15th day, when the Lantern Festival takes place.

Today as families and friends across the world sit down to eat dinner together and gift each other traditional red envelopes, we’re thinking about the gift of good news our HeroRATs enable us to bring to our beneficiaries.

In Chinese culture the rat is an animal that symbolises prosperity and the beginning of a new day. And that is what we wish for the people living in the vulnerable communities we serve. Like the gift of good news we gave Cambodian farmer Sarun of mine-free land to grow rice.

Landmines are still inflicting pain and fear in Cambodia. Clearing minefields is intense, difficult, dangerous work and demands accuracy and time. This is where the HeroRATs come in. Integrating the HeroRATs into conventional methods has significantly increased the speed of landmine detection, which boosts the daily square meter coverage and clearance, and allowing people to get back on their land as quickly as possible.

“The fields near us are where we grow our rice and cassava and herd livestock. Our children play in them or walk through them to get to school. We could only use part of the fields as we knew there were landmines. We had to use them because we have no choice. I had to feed my family.

Then APOPO came. When we first saw the rats, we were very surprised at how big they were! In the end, APOPO found landmines in the fields near my house. We now have access to land that we have not cultivated for the last 20 years and I can hire tractors that used to refuse to work these fields.

I now harvest more than my family needs and sell it so I can put my kids through school and invest in some livestock.”

– Mao Sarun, Farmer in Siem Reap

All of us at APOPO are delighted that 2020 is the Year of the Rat and we too are taking the opportunity to celebrate our work, our supporters, and our HeroRATs. To all of our supporters and followers celebrating the Chinese New Year, we wish you a healthy, wealthy and happy new year!

Interested in supporting APOPO and the HeroRATs? You can gift your own red envelope.

APOPO Cambodia remains most grateful to its donors and partners who are
instrumental to the success of our landmine clearance program.