As he prepares to retire after 28 years at the helm, SPANA Chief Executive Jeremy Hulme looks to the future.
28 years ago, before I took up my role as Chief Executive, I arrived in Morocco to begin work as SPANA’s Country Director. With my family in tow, the relocation from a remote Scottish island was as big a culture shock as you can imagine. But just as shocking were the sights awaiting us – everywhere the streets were full of donkeys, mules and horses, limping, wounded and in desperate need of help.
I knew veterinary care alone could never be enough; that alongside changing dressings and harnesses, there were attitudes to change too. Now, as I prepare to retire, I am writing to ask for your help to continue my work. Humane education is central to our work, and has been since our earliest days.
In recent years the programme, led by Diana Hulme, has expanded. Today SPANA has 16 education centres across six countries, with mobile exhibition units taking our work to more remote communities. Over 50,000 children took part in SPANA’s programme last year, and we reached many more through our outreach projects.
Humane education helps children to develop positive attitudes, empathy and respect towards animals. It’s an approach that works. Research led by our new Education Director, Dr Stephen Albone, has proved that children who take part in our education programme- whether by visiting a SPANA centre, receiving SPANA-produced lessons in the classroom or visiting one of our mobile exhibitions – develop a more positive attitude towards animals.
Our lifesaving veterinary work is vital. But it’s our children’s education programme which leaves a real legacy, driving improvements in the treatment of working animals that last.
Every text book, every school visit, every stop for the mobile exhibition is thanks to you – without your support, none of this can happen. Thanks to our outreach fund, SPANA’s education work isn’t just limited to our nine permanent countries. In Kenya, our team is supporting a network of animal clubs for schoolchildren. Since January this year, another 20 schools joined the programme, taking the total number of participating schools up to 33.
Children learn to respect animals and develop greater empathy. To mark my final year, we’ve set out an ambitious strategic plan to extend our education programme to 75,000 children, so that more animals than ever can benefit – not just now but for many years into the future.
With your help we can reach an additional 1,200 children in Kenya, Ethiopia and Jordan. We can train more teachers and provide pens, pencils and activity books for animal clubs in schools that simply can’t afford them.
We can do more for the rural communities too, those most likely to own working animals. With your generous support, we aim to reach another 30,000 children with our mobile exhibition units. The unit’s interactive displays really bring our message to life, but nothing beats spending time with animals. With your support we can also fund animal handling programmes at SPANA centres, ensuring children both learn appropriate care and develop nurturing and compassionate attitudes.
Of all the things we have achieved together over the past 28 years, it’s the incredible achievements of our humane education programme that give me the greatest satisfaction. Now, as I step down, I am asking one final time if you can help SPANA to reach more children, to ensure that the legacy that we leave is one that benefits these animals now and for years to come.