Since my colleague, Amanda Gordon, has been back from her visit to our project in Mexico, it has rejogged my own memory of my stay in Ethiopia during 2006 when the Sanctuary hosted the 5th International Colloquium on Working Equines.
I spent time at our base in Debre Zeit and met many donkey owners at the clinic there whilst out and about with the mobile clinic. I love animals so this trip was difficult for me as I had to face hundreds of donkeys who I just knew were tired and unhappy but nonetheless plodding on with life - because that's what donkeys seem to do. What made it bearable was that our teams gave the donkeys some much needed TLC; it seemed to me that just having their harnessing taken off gave them cause to sigh with relief.
Since my trip, I have had a baby and Dr Boija Endebu from our Debre Zeit team recently sent this story, which really caught my eye. He told me about Shewaye Desta, a 28 year old (the same age as me) who had walked eight kilometres with her baby on her back so that she could get treatment for her donkey Kirbrit. I cannot imagine how difficult this journey must have been for her as this is no easy task.
The journey was obviously necessary; I had learned to understand this from my time in Ethiopia that donkeys play a cruicul role in every day life. There was no way that Shewaye could carry a baby and still be able to collect firewood and drinking water without her donkey, so the free treatments given by our team for her donkey's hyena bite and back sore from carrying too much was very helpful.
Life for donkeys, and in many cases people, is extremely tough in Ethiopia, so it is really nice to know that I have been to our clinic there and know just how much hard work is going on to help ease suffering and improve conditions for the donkeys in the future.