Following a talk by Sanctuary staff, children at the N V Patel Vidyamandir School in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat state, produced this and other wonderful paintings. They give an insight into two areas where donkeys are used locally to help earn a living - as beasts of burden for potters and railway maintenance staff.
As you know, here in Solapur we have been trying to reduce the number of colic (gut pain) cases caused by donkeys eating plastic bags. The problem is that people throw out their waste food in plastic bags, and the donkeys end up eating the plastic bag together with the food. In the worst cases, the plastic bags block the gut and the donkey dies a painful death.
Children from Nain Primary School based near Solapur in India recently saved a foal with a neck wound after receiving a free educational session about donkey care and welfare from the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary.
Sometimes, something happens that just strikes a chord in you and remains with you always. For me, they are often very basic things, a moment of perfect peace and calm, or sharing a simple meal of homemade bread and cheese with one of the donkey owners in their home.
When I left you last time, I was in India and about to go up to Sikar in Rajasthan to run a Harness Making Course for the local donkey owners. The run up was far better as Sadagi, the taxi driver, now has a newer Tata and took a different road, which knocked about 2 hours off the drive. He explained that as we weren't going to our normal destination he'd changed the route. Since both destinations are only half an hour apart I found this a little confusing, but, when travelling abroad I usually find it easier to smile and go with the flow.
In October 2008, the Sanctuary installed a water trough at the entrance to a brick kiln (known as a 'bhatta' in the Hindi language) at Gurgaon, the sixth largest city in the Indian state of Haryana, where donkeys work tirelessly all day.