2 January 2020

Hannah Russell - a photo diary from Kenya

Last year, Brooke's Ambassador - Youth Focus travelled to Kenya to see our vital work in the country, with a particular emphasis on how the donkey skin crisis is affecting communities

All images taken by Petterik Wiggers


Hannah’s trip began with a visit to Thiba Primary School, where she was also joined by students from the nearby schools of Mathangauta and Kiamaneyki. All three schools are part of Brooke’s Donkey Care Club project, which encourages children to think about animal welfare from a young age and go home and share what they’ve learnt with their parents. Hannah presented the children with a scrapbook from children at Le Cateau Community Primary School in Yorkshire, and she was given one to take home with her.

Hannah meets children from local schools

Hannah watches Donkey Care Club members debate the value of a donkey

It was great to see the Donkey care clubs and work with the children, they showed me how they learn at the donkey care clubs through poetry, dance, singing, dancing and drawings which was brilliant. I joined in on the action as well and really got a feel for how the donkey care clubs work.

Hannah Russell

Hannah takes a selfie with school children

Following her visit to the school, Hannah was invited back to the home of one of the students, Collins, who attends the Mathanguata School. Hannah met Collins’s family and was able to see the learnings of Donkey Care Club put into practice.

Hannah meets Collins and his family's donkey


The day started with a visit to the home of Fridah, a student at Thiba Primary School, where Hannah visited yesterday. Fridah is 13 years old and lives on a small farm with her father, mother, brother, sister, and their three donkeys, cows, pigs, and a goat. Fridah gets up at 6am every morning to feed the donkeys before walking a mile to school.

Hannah and Fridah

It was lovely to see Fridah at home with her family and see how what she learnt from the donkey care clubs is put in to practice, it was great to meet her family and the donkeys who are well looked after, you could see how much the families rely on the donkeys to work and support the family.

Hannah Russell

The day ended with a visit to the Kimbimbi Donkey Welfare Group, to see how the community has responded to the threat of donkey theft in the wake of the donkey skin trade crisis. Up to 60 donkeys a week are stolen from owners to feed demand from China. With support from Brooke, the group constructed a donkey shelter to protect their animals from theft.

Silas Gitonga, Secretary of the National Donkey Owners Group in Kimbimbi, Kenya

Hearing the stories from the group regarding the donkey theft was heartbreaking and really made me think about my horses at home and how lucky I am. I had the opportunity to see the shelters being constructed to keep the donkeys safe, they were great for the donkeys to shelter in during the day and to make sure nothing happened to them during the night. It was good to see more shelters being made and hear about the future plans, this will help stop the skin trade.

Hannah Russell

(Top left in green t-shit) Phelix Mbaya Hamisi is the Chairman of the United Donkey Owners Group 


Hannah travelled to Mwingi, where she met women who are part of the Upendo wa Punda women’s group, which was formed in response to the increase in donkey slaughter. The group have tried to set up a communal savings account to try and help those who have lost their donkeys, generating income by using their donkeys to collect and sell water.

Josephine, Beatrice and Florence of the Upendo wa Punda women's group in Mwingi

The trip ended with a visit to the Kaliluni Women Group in Mwingi. The women produce ropes from sisal plants that they make into soft harnesses and tethering ropes for donkeys and also bags to sell to generate income for the group. Thanks to Brooke, the group were able to purchase a machine to make the process easier, allowing them to produce more ropes and increase their income.  

The Kaliluni women's group teaches Hannah how to weave baskets from the grass 

I had a go at making the ropes by hand which was so hard and took me ages, I don’t know how the women’s group do it! Although many members of the group had donkeys stolen from them they all came together as a community to help each other out, I had a go at using the ‘old’ method  to make the ropes without the machine and this was a lot longer and harder and would take days for the sisal to dry out, where as with the Brooke charity’s help the machine has created a better future for the community, not only can they make the products a lot faster they can also generate more income for the group with the thanks to Brooke.

Hannah Russell

Members of the Kaliluni women's group produce ropes from sisal plants that they make into soft harnesses and tetherng ropes for donkeys and also bags to sell to generate income for the group

I feel honoured to be part of such a great project

Hannah Russell