In good Hobbit fashion and in gratitude for my life, I like to give something good away on my birthday. This year, I’ve adopted a “Hero Rat” through the organization Apopo.
These are a large rat species who are trained to sniff out hidden land mines left all over after military conflicts, thereby allowing people to then dig them up and get them out of there.
The rats are highly efficient landmine detectors because they sniff out explosive chemicals but ignore uncontaminated scrap metal. Many lives have been saved, and now these communities can once more farm their productive land. And for you animal lovers like me, it’s important to know that these rats are not endangered by this project: they are light enough that unlike people, they don’t trigger the mines by walking on them.
The rat I adopted is named Magawa, and last month alone, he unearthed 4 hidden landmines in Cambodia. Apopo claims, “Magawa can search a 200 square meter minefield in 20 minutes. This would take a technician with a metal detector between one and four days.”
They go on to explain why this work is so needed. I think this also demonstrates why US Americans should help be part of the solution:
“Over 1,000,000 tons of bombs were dropped in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. More than 100km2 of the country is contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war, creating more than 25,000 amputees, the highest ratio of mine amputees anywhere in the world. …Cambodia is the second most mine affected country in the world, after Afghanistan.”
The $ gift was inspired by my wise friend Erfert Fenton who first told me about this worthy endeavor, and given in honor of my colleague and friend Sue Chambers Wallingford’s deeply life-changing art therapy work with victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia.
Thanks to all of you reading this for whatever you do to make this world a better place. These acts can be big or very very small, like smiling at those who check out your groceries or letting some car in ahead of you while driving, as those everyday gifts quickly add up to more happiness and kindness in this world, which is sorely needed right now.
Please feel free to tell us about your own acts, received gifts, and experiences in the Comments below. It’s great to inspire one another.
For further information, here’s a 45-second video about APOPO’s projects: