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How to make an Egyptian brick

Before I first visited the Egyptian brick kilns, I imagined a fairly simple setup with obvious ‘cause-and-effect’ donkey welfare issues. While there are indeed many causes of bad welfare, the complexity of the kilns is staggering, making work to improve the donkey’s lot incredibly challenging.

Boys load the carts

Learning on the hoof

After nearly 11 months without a spot of rain, the brick kilns in the desert south of Cairo are as dusty, harsh and unforgiving as ever. Today, I visited the kilns to see how young Egyptians are being trained and assessed to provide a service to the donkeys at the kilns, which will not only mean that more donkeys can be reached, but also that new donkey-related livelihoods are being built.

Ibrahim and Ahmed with their donkey

The Price of Gold...

Several people told me that the wet season would start in October. Dutifully, at lunchtime on 1st October as I was taking the long bus ride deep into western Tanzania to Kahama district, the heavens opened.

A donkey enjoying a rice-husk treat

Tackling welfare in Tanzania

Tanzania turns out to be really quite big. The landscapes are big, distances are immense, the sky is vast and the forests of baobab trees are amongst the chunkiest I’ve ever seen. As I headed west from Dar es Salaam with the team from TAWESO (Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society), I had my nose pressed against the window like a child at a sweetshop.

Dr Thomas, Henry and Amaani the donkey

Alive and kicking!

It sounds like the start of a corny Christmas cracker joke: what do you call a cross between a donkey and a zebra?

In the hot and crowded city of Dar es Salaam, I met Elize Dorrestein, a graduate vet from The Netherlands who is volunteering with the Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO).

'Zedonk' in Kenya!

Preventing wounds with the help of women

Driving with all ears and eyes on the road, Livingstone Masija, the Programme Manager at ASPA (Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals) expertly navigated the many goats, donkeys, children and chickens that filled the dusty dirt track into the hills to the south of Arusha in Tanzania. I’ve spent the past couple of days with ASPA and our time in the office has been balanced with time in preventing wounds the local markets and wells where the team works so I can learn more about the welfare issues they face and meet some of the donkey owners they work with.

Livingstone shows the women how to stuff the harnesses


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