I've been receiving lots of positive feedback on my recent opinion piece published by AOL News on August 17, 2010. I'm happy to report, "Support your Local Hero Rat" is a success.
So why did I choose to write about APOPO HeroRATs? How did I even learn HeroRATs existed?
Things started with a discussion between some members of my church. We had heard about the horrendous number of buried, unexploded landmines in Angola, and the resulting unavailability of otherwise good land to cultivate crops. Angola had a problem with self-sufficiency. Farmland was vital to their economy. All methods to detect and deactivate landmines were time-intensive, money-intensive, or both. Might there be better methods awaiting discovery? Might people discover such methods if they were aware of the magnitude of the landmine problem--a problem often neglected by the U.S. media?
I did some online research about demining and contacted some experts in the field. I found out about HeroRATS on a google search. At first, I wondered if HeroRATs were for real. After all, landmine experts I had communicated with via email had mentioned nothing about the critters. So I went to the APOPO website and read their 2009 annual report. As weeks progressed, HeroRATs were mentioned a number of times in various blog entries, YouTube videos and online news reports.
I decided HeroRATs were for real and started writing an article. Gina Misiroglu at Red Room suggested pitching my essay to AOL.
The HeroRAT website now links to "Support your Local Hero Rat." What an honor! I hope a lot of people read the piece and start thinking about more low-tech solutions to a big problem.
And I'm really delighted over the plans to bring "HeroRATs" to Angola.
Laurel Anne Hill (Author of "Heroes Arise")
Causes Laurel Hill Supports
Winter Nights Shelter and Shelter, Inc.