This little girl and boy are children of donkey owners in Palitana, a small town in Gujurat, India. Above Palitana is a long hill. It takes 3,950 steps to get to the top. The top of the hill is covered with Jain temples, and the number of temples keeps growing. All the building materials are carried up on the backs of donkeys.
Jains are a religious/philosophical group who believe very strongly that all animals, even insects, should be cared for and protected. The Donkey Sanctuary was asked by concerned Jain pilgrims to provide care and advice to the donkeys of Palitana and their owners.
This photo was taken on our first visit to Palitana. We treated the sick donkeys and gave routine preventative care.
We have realised everywhere we work that long term changes in donkey care have to be supported by education. In this we work with donkey owners and their children. We aim to raise empathy and awareness - that donkeys can suffer just like we can. We also provide practical education on husbandry and healthcare.
Colouring in donkeys is a starter activity. The different ways children colour the donkeys allows a discussion about how everyone and every donkey is different. In future visits we will take this forward, and train the donkey owners how to treat specific problems, and administer simple treatments themselves, adding to their existing knowledge of donkey care.