Name: Alexander Iyungu (as an elder he is known by his surname)
From: Tanzania, originally from Dodoma region and then moved to Kilosa, outside of Morogoro
Job: Sample preparer at APOPO
Tell me more about your job at APOPO
Now I am the sample preparer. I joined back in 2000 as a trainee with no science or research background, then I became a lab rat trainer before moving on to training the giant pouched rats. Early on I was also an assistant to a researcher who was investigating wild giant pouched rat nocturnal behaviour so we used to trap a wild rat and place a remote tracking device on it and then spend the whole night from 10pm until 6am tracking the rat around the countryside.
I had grown up seeing these rats around market places and built up areas where people would leave litter and food scraps. They are even eaten by some people. Now I’ve met these rats I could never eat one.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The only thing I ever dreamed of being was a teacher. I used to like seeing how a teacher shaped and developed the children.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Mathematics and English.
What languages do you speak?
Swahili, English and Gogo from the Dodoma region.
What is your favourite colour?
Any type of green and I also like yellow.
What is your favourite animal?
Chickens, they are fascinating to me.
What is your favourite food?
Ugali with any type of beans and maybe a beef stew.
Where is your favourite place?
My home, 8 kilometres from here out in the countryside.
Who has been an inspiration to you in your life?
The first president – he was a good person. He cared for the poor and did a lot to try and help them enjoy life. He was against anything that divided people and he really wanted unity and equality. I’m grateful for what he did. He even gave us a national language, Swahili, that meant that we could be more united.
For the finale of this amazing journey to Africa, I joined a group and hiked up Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free-standing peak in the world. It’s a 5,895m (19,341ft) high dormant volcano that springs up into three cones – Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit … Continue reading 20. Trekking to the roof of Africa
My two weeks at APOPO has flown by. Today is my last day and so I’m feeling a little sad but it really has been amazing and I think I’ve made the most of it. I started today in Lily’s office as usual but we had a coffee and actually finally got round to completing … Continue reading 19. Wrapping up my time with APOPO including a Full Cheek Friday Feast
I was tired this morning after waking up to another rainy day. I started off by documenting all of the rats in the breeding kennels (which spelled completion of my Head Office rat audit!) and then I finished up adding the information to the master spreadsheet. Then I interviewed Pendo, a wonderful character at APOPO. … Continue reading 18 APOPO training, welfare, research and data