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Improving welfare in brick kiln communities

Once a fortnight, a Brooke mobile veterinary clinic team visits Dogaich Brick Kiln in Pakistan, where they hold a community engagement session followed by a clinic. Run by Brooke vet Dr Manuchahar, these sessions cover good animal welfare such as handling, wound management, grooming, nutrition and hoof care.

Riaz, one of the owners who attend the sessions, said: “The animal is everything for us because he is earning for us. His pain is our pain.

“Now we are capable of managing our equines by ourselves. Prevention is better than cure.”

Helping owners care for their working animals

Every day in the sweltering heat of the Basti Labar Brick Kiln, Mithu would make 25 round trips virtually non-stop for 10 hours, with barely any food, water or rest. And he would carry a total of three tonnes of bricks.

Mithu’s owner, Mohammad Nazir, was paid just one penny for every 10 bricks he transported. Along with soaring inflation, this pitiful wage meant that increasing Mithu’s load was the only way he could earn enough to feed and clothe his wife and three children.

But one day Mithu collapsed. Fortunately, Mohammad was able to contact the local Brooke mobile veterinary team, who spent over two hours treating Mithu for dehydration, wounds and exhaustion. Brooke vet Dr Rab Nawaz taught Mohammed good animal welfare skills like proper feeding, adequate rest and balanced loading, as well as first aid training so he could treat wounds and care for Mithu better.

“I will never again overload him because, as Brooke showed me, it won’t increase my income or Mithu’s health or productivity,” said Mohammad.

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Empowering women through donkey welfare groups

Margaret is the chairwoman of the Naserian Women’s Donkey Welfare Group in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Brooke East Africa works with this welfare group through its partner, Farming Systems Kenya. 

As well as welfare training and discussions, the women create small businesses, and bulk buy donkey feed and medication. The group has another important aim: to fund local girls’ education. To do this, the group takes part in ‘table banking’ where every week each member contributes 500KSL, which is then given to one member to be used partly for donkey welfare and partly to pay for their daughters’ - or other local girls’ - school fees.

The Naserian Women’s Donkey Welfare Group is a great example of how women can be empowered through owning a donkey. Local girls are now graduating from university and more are applying to go.

Naserian Women's Donkey Welfare Group donkey welfare group

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The importance of good quality hoof care

In Senegal, Abdoul Marone owns a four-year old stallion called Laity Sana which he uses to transport materials for his carpentry business, and in the fields during the harvest season. Before Brooke was working in the area, Abdoul was apprehensive about taking Laity Sana to a farrier because the horse would often come back with cuts and lesions.

For the last two years, however, Abdoul has been visiting Brooke-trained farrier Ablaye Cisse. Abdoul said, “I only allow this farrier to trim Laity Sana’s hooves now because he is trained and very professional and he takes his time and is careful. I know I am getting good quality. I’ve also noticed that he doesn’t just do it for the money, he really cares and takes pride in his work.”

Brooke’s community engagement work shows owners the importance of hoof care. Abdoul admitted, “In the past, I would wait until the horse falls down or starts wobbling before I would take him to get his feet trimmed, but now I know to get them trimmed regularly to prevent accidents.”

Abdoul with Laity Sana

Abdoul also owns three mares but he does not take them to Ablaye for trimming. Like many horse owners in Senegal, Abdoul treats his mares differently from his stallion: “I take care of my stallion much more because after the farming season the mares don’t work but the stallion works all year round.”

A hard win for the team in Senegal, demonstrating there is still much work to be done.

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Training 'community relays'

Pape Ndiaye is the chief of his village of Mboul Ndiogone and owns three horses. He is also a Brooke Community Relay. Pape was identified as an influential member of his village who showed a strong affinity for animal welfare, so he was trained as community relay. He now works in his own village and others nearby, training owners on important animal welfare issues: “It is not difficult to change people’s attitudes, I just talk with them. My main challenge is convening communities together at a time that is convenient to them. To get around this I go from house to house.”

Pape confesses that he himself has made several changes to how he looks after his horses since Brooke has been working in his village: “In the past I never took my horses to the farrier for trimming but now with the project I have seen how important it is and take them regularly. Previously my animals didn’t have a shelter and would just wander about, now I have built a shelter and I make sure that they are protected and safe… Brooke has taught me to respect animals.”

Pape has seen a real improvement in the welfare of the animals in his village. “The animals are healthier and because they’re healthier, they work more. This increases productivity and productivity has increased income.”

Pape Ndiaye, Brooke Community Relay

Pape Ndiaye

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Gharry horses

Samuel Mamuto’s family is dependent on his income from working with Ethiopia’s gharry (taxi) horses. Prior to getting help and advice from Brooke, Samuel didn’t know how to care for his horses.

“I have been working with gharry horses for the past 13 years but I was not providing my horses with the proper treatment they needed before I got the support from Brooke. Although I knew how important they were for me and my family, I had no knowledge and understanding of their welfare. But since I got this awareness, thanks to Brooke, I have come to know how to take care of them and increase my income.”

“When I first bought my horse, Dame, his body condition was poor and he had some wounds. It has taken me more than a month to get him in good shape. I give Dame some grass and plenty of feed every night so that he can have enough to eat. Then in the morning, I give him enough water to drink. Then I brush his body and clean his eyes before getting him ready to work.

“Brooke’s presence in the community is so good for gharry horses and their owners. Elders, kids, everyone cares for the horses because of the education we received from Brooke. We have also been taught about vaccinations and equine specific treatments, and with this awareness, are now using them. Dame gets vaccinated twice a year and goes to clinics whenever I feel like he is sick.

“Brooke is changing lives. The project staff are working hard to safeguard the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules in Halaba and the surrounding areas. All I want is for Brooke to keep up the good job.”

Samuel Mamuto with his gharry horse Dame and his son

Samuel Mumoto with horse and son

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