We are an international animal welfare organisation dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world's poorest communities. We provide treatment, training and programmes around animal health and wellbeing, operating across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
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The Brooke works in brick kilns across two continents, providing treatment and care for horses, donkeys and mules. As demand for bricks increases, the welfare of these working animals is increasingly important.
Brooke Ambassador helps push into new India brick kilns
The Brooke is expanding its work into more than 117 new brick kilns in India to benefit more working donkeys, horses and mules.
“It really struck home what a tough environment it is here in the brick kilns for the animals and their owners, a stark contrast to the lives horses in the UK enjoy,” says Brooke Ambassador Major Richard Waygood MBE.
“The people however, have a huge amount of pride in their animals – this can clearly be seen by the way they have welcomed the Brooke into their communities and are embracing the advice given.”
The Brooke is offering emergency vet treatment and vaccinations, as well as advice on disease prevention. It is also creating equine welfare groups, encouraging owners to contribute to a joint savings account for use in emergencies and ensures they have access to first aid kits.
To bring about lasting change, the Brooke’s approach involves working closely with local service providers too, such as farriers, saddlers and cart makers, which are often difficult for poor communities to access.
Richard visited some of the new kilns earlier this year to help to raise awareness of the austere conditions facing many of the animals who work tirelessly in the kilns to help their owners earn a living.
India is the second largest brick producer in the world, with an output of 140 billion bricks annually. The process is largely manual and there is little or no technology involved.
Extreme temperatures, lack of shade, difficult terrain and overloading can cause suffering for horses, donkeys and mules. Disease and injuries are common.
Demand for veterinary services is high
“Working conditions in the brick kilns are severe,” said Dorcas Pratt, Brooke’s Director of International Development." There are currently 100,000 brick kilns in India with more than 5,000 found in Uttar Pradesh alone, so demand for the Brooke’s services is high. To meet that demand we’ve expanded our programme to reach more animals."
Millions of bricks are needed to rebuild hospitals, schools and houses following the Pakistan floods six months ago and the bricks will be transported by working horses and donkeys. This puts animals at renewed risk, especially those working in the brick kilns.
Brick is used in 98% of buildings in Pakistan. There are about 11,000* brick kilns across Pakistan, where between 750,000 and 900,000** people work alongside their animals to support their families. (*Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research ** NGO Ercelawn.)
The Helwan brick kilns are the largest in Egypt, with working donkeys and mules playing a crucial role in its 185 kilns, producing 200 million bricks a month. Nearly 2,000 animals face years of hard labour in sweltering kilns, just south of Cairo, transporting tonnes of bricks with little food, water, rest or shade.
Beasts of burden
Donkeys and mules suffer from a number of physical problems ranging from lameness and dehydration to harness wounds, caused by overloading and long working hours. A single animal pulls an average of 25–40 tonnes a day and while the Brooke advises owners and users not to overload their animals, workers are paid by the brick, often resulting in animals carrying too much.
The Brooke is on hand to help
Mobile veterinary teams visit the kilns treating animals and offering advice for their owners and users. Prior to the Brooke’s intervention, animals were often treated with traditional practices such as firing and mutilation.