Fashion icon Gisele visits poverty-stricken Kenya with Northamptonshire charity worker

By Daniel Owens 
Published on Thursday 2 August 2012 16:31


A Northamptonshire woman has taken a world-famous fashion icon to poverty-stricken parts of Kenya to show how technology can transform lives.


Abbie Wells, of Moulton, took Brazilian supermodel and UN ambassador Gisele Bundchen to East Africa to demonstrate Practical Action’s vital work in Kenya.

The Warwickshire-based charity work with the world’s poorest people to provide technical solutions to problems communities face on a daily basis, and in doing so, help around one million people a year improve their lives.

Gisele, who recently announced she is expecting her second baby with her partner, American football star Tom Brady, was there to support the charity’s work.

And during her the supermodel’s five-day visit, Abbie travelled with Gisele as she took part in a dawn firewood collection with women in Kisumu, Western Kenya, who still cook on traditional fires that fill homes with toxic smoke.

The 29-year-old also showed the star how bio-gas (turning human waste into power) was being used in Kenya’s biggest slum, Kibera, and witnessed how people are transforming their lives through the use of small-scale hydro systems – built and managed by local people.

Abbie, a former pupil at Wollaston School in Wellingborough, said: “Practical Action do vital work in providing solutions to the problems the poorest people in the world face every day and it was really exciting to be able to show one of the world’s most recognisable and influential people how we use technology to transform lives.

“Gisele was astounded at how hard the women had to work, and the impact we were able to have by introducing simple technology into their lives. She saw how access to electricity was enabling people in Kenya’s biggest slum to start businesses, the devastating effect of living in a house filled with toxic smoke and how our smokeless stoves help keep thousands of women and children healthy.

“As media officer for Practical Action, my job is to ensure that our stories are heard by as many people as possible and so it was a great opportunity to have one of the most iconic women in the world supporting what we do.

“We made a series of videos of her visit and they will promote our work internationally, ensuring that we are able to continue to help improve lives. We also took a number of national journalists and introduced them to people who have benefitted from our work and they have since written about the trip as well.

“It was incredibly hard work. I had to arrange security, accommodation and our schedule but Gisele was great to work with and although it was exhausting and emotionally draining, it was also one of the most rewarding weeks of my life.”

Videos of the trip will be put online on the Practical Action website and on YouTube, while Gisele will also help promote the campaign for smokeless cookstoves on her website, Twitter and Facebook pages. A film of the first day can be viewed here:

For further details about Abbie’s trip, and the work Practical Action does in Kenya, log on to


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