Woman vet with a dog in her hands, donkey, horse and a man wearing turban
Woman vet with a dog in her hands, donkey, horse and a man wearing turban

Our Story – A History of Spana

Our incredible journey

In 1923, Kate Hosali and her daughter Nina set off for North Africa as tourists; it was a journey that would last a lifetime. As they travelled through the countryside, passing bustling souks, remote communities and rural farms, they were inspired by much of what they saw. But they were also struck by the awful sight of donkeys, mules and camels – malnourished, weak, buckling under the weight of huge loads; suffering with wounds inflicted by poorly fitting harnesses.

Woman in hat with thin white horse

The early days

From 1924 to 1926, Kate and Nina travelled from village to village, country to country, seeking out animals that needed help. These working animals were a lifeline for poor, marginalised communities, transporting vital food and water into the villages, taking goods to market and carrying people to work, schools and hospitals. They helped ensure these communities survived – often against the odds.

But the lives of these working animals were hard. With no access to professional veterinary care, they had to carry on despite their injuries, working through the pain.

Kate and Nina decided these noble, hardworking animals deserved better than a life of suffering and, once back home, founded SPANA; the first step in creating a more compassionate world for working animals.

Our early expansion

In the years that followed, SPANA grew. Slowly at first, we expanded across North Africa to help animals in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Even as the Second World War tore North Africa apart, our dedicated teams worked on. We rebuilt our operations in the post-war years, opening new veterinary clinics and stepping up our education programme.

By the 1980s and 1990s, SPANA was expanding beyond its North African roots, first into the Middle East and then across West and East Africa.

Close up of elephant in jungle

More recently

We have opened new programmes, first in southern Africa, with operations in Botswana and Zimbabwe, and finally in Myanmar.

At the same time, we introduced more outreach projects: partnerships with trusted local charities and community organisations who share our vision for working animals. These small grants allow us to increase our reach across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central and South America.

Meanwhile, over the past 20 years, our emergency projects, which help animals and communities in times of crisis have become central to our approach. Thanks to our supporters, dedicated SPANA teams have saved lives in conflicts and natural disaster zones including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Egypt, Mongolia, India and Kosovo.

Today

SPANA is helping in more countries than ever before, though the scale of the challenge we face is immense.

Kate and Nina Hosali’s practical, hands-on approach remains at the heart of our work today. And we remain committed to fulfil her mission, that SPANA ‘will continue until they all get cured’.

Discover more about our work

View some of the countries we work in

school children petting a donkey

Helping working animals in Jordan

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Jordan.

Elephants walking through jungle

Helping working animals in Myanmar

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Myanmar.

three donkeys pulling a cart

Helping working animals in Zimbabwe

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Zimbabwe.

school children petting a donkey

Helping working animals in Jordan

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Jordan.

Elephants walking through jungle

Helping working animals in Myanmar

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Myanmar.

three donkeys pulling a cart

Helping working animals in Zimbabwe

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Zimbabwe.

Donate to SPANA to help the world’s working animals