Chris Garrett, our harness development officer, went to Egypt in July of this year to visit some of the 25 brick kilns where our mobile clinic team are allowed to work in the El Saf area of Egypt. The brick kilns are in two main areas in the country. The number of brick kilns is very difficult to assess accurately, but is thought to be in the region of 300. On a recent visit there were at least three more chimneys under construction in El Saf, so the industry is still expanding.
The first brick kiln Chris went to was supposedly the worst and he found that some of the hitching points on the donkeys' harnessing hadn't been altered and the materials were poor. This resulted in a set of harness that only lasted a month instead of a year and of little benefit for the donkeys because the draught and brakes were still coming via the saddle.
The donkeys at this site were pulling well over a tonne of bricks in each load and you could hear them struggling for breath from more than 50 metres away, choked by the collars being pulled up toward the saddle.
With the new harnessing, the donkey was able to breathe easily and the saddle received no pressure, either in draught or braking.