The six donkey assisted therapy centres across the UK facilitate hundreds of mutually enriching interaction sessions between donkeys and vulnerable children and adults. One particularly touching story is that of Karandeep Bahra and his donkey friends at our centre in Birmingham.
Karandeep, a young adult with additional needs, has been involved in these sessions at Birmingham since March 2017. Young adults with physical, social and behavioural difficulties gain confidence, improved life skills and a sense of achievement from these sessions. And the donkeys – many of whom have been rescued from a life of neglect, mistreatment or abandonment – gain a new and rewarding life engaging with lots of people. Over the months Karandeep has had the chance to interact with the 18 resident donkeys situated in the picturesque woodland of Sutton Park. His sessions have built his confidence around animals, other people as well as giving him the opportunity to reflect on and communicate his own feelings.
In order to give something back to the donkeys, that have become his friends, Karandeep decided to raise money for The Donkey Sanctuary. He used loom bands to create colourful bracelets and sold them to his neighbours, friends and family – raising over £50 for the charity. We are so pleased to see the donkeys inspiring young adults to take steps to raise awareness and compassion for these wonderful creatures.
When asked why he comes to The Donkey Sanctuary, Karandeep said: "Because I like animals and enjoy having fun with the donkeys. It makes me feel happy and I like working with the staff who make me feel comfortable". Karandeep even made loom bracelets for the staff who led the interaction sessions – Andy and Amber wear their loom bands with pride (although not around the donkeys who always want to try to nibble them)!
Staff member Andy has seen a fantastic improvement in Karandeep’s confidence and empathy towards the donkeys. "When Karandeep first started the sessions he was nervous and not very communicative. Over the weeks I have watched him choose which donkeys he would like to work with, identify donkey behaviours and emotions and recall facts about his new friends. It has been very rewarding to see this progression culminate in such a generous gesture as the funds he has decided to raise by himself".
When asked about his fund raising activities, Karandeep said: "I made loom bracelets to sell because I wanted to help the donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary – especially Oscar, who is my favourite donkey because I really enjoy it when he comes over to me".
As a special treat for such a generous gesture, and because Karandeep enjoys learning about donkey enrichment, he helped scatter grated carrots on to the fields for his friends to eat. We are so lucky to have clients like Karandeep who think donkeys are b-LOOM-ing marvellous!