Whether in the brick kilns of India or green meadows of Devon – foot problems are an issue affecting donkeys across the world. Twenty-nine people currently practise farriery in our projects internationally, but some in different ways to others. To make the most of their wealth of knowledge and experience The Donkey Sanctuary recently organised a workshop in Egypt to bring people together from across the world to share ideas and put together competency standards everyone could take home. Professionals from eight countries took part - Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, UK and the USA.
“It was amazing is to see so many people, so many friends from eight countries, and to realize that there is no big problems of communication, even different cultures, languages and ways to think,” said Omar Prado Ortiz from Mexico.
Each team started by showing the tools they are using - traditional and new, said Nehal Sabry, vet at ESPWWA (watch Nehal’s photo diary of the workshop below). “The Mexican and Ethiopian teams showed us how they approach handling which was also really interesting. As a veterinarian I’m totally different after the workshop,” she said. “I learned a lot of things that will absolutely make me see things in a different way and I learned a lot of things from experienced professors, farriers and donkey owners that will help me to be a better vet who could be able to help more working animals.”
Nehal’s colleague at ESPWWA, Heba Abo Zied, who works as Programme Manager for Community Participation and Awareness, said the workshop was a good chance for her to work together with partners for “a common goal”.
“We must work together to change the attitudes of people towards their donkeys so we need to understand the people first. I showed participants our plan to start with communities and explained that we must study these communities to understand their thinking and their culture to know how we can encourage them to change their attitudes towards donkeys.”
As part of the workshop the group visited three brick kilns. In 2004 when our partners ESPWWA started working in the kilns there were no farriers working there. Now there are three and their services reach about 30% of the donkeys in the area. Hoof problems include overgrown feet, club foot, and problems in the hind feet due to pulling of heavy loads.
“The donkeys would cover a distance of approximately 50 metres to the loading area, wait for their carts to be loaded with bricks and finally take them into the kilns,” says Dr Felix Rachuonyo from Kenya. “The donkeys were very useful in transporting bricks into the kiln using metal carts. They worked in shifts for almost five hours a day. The boys working with the donkeys expertly controlled them during work. After work, the donkeys were provided with food, water and shelter. They looked healthy and were very friendly even to strangers.”
“Harness-related and beating wounds were extremely common and the roads were difficult for donkeys pulling carts with heavy bricks load. Shelters were muddy which the potential causes for hoof overgrowth and other hoof related problems like hoof abscess,” says Dr Tesfaye Megra, Project Leader at the Donkey Sanctuary in Ethiopia’s Alage ATVET College Partnership Project. Conditions were vastly improved from the first time he went to the kiln.
“Personally I have seen huge change since my previous visit in terms of donkey welfare, donkey-human interaction and working conditions improvements.”
Dr Mohsen Mohamed, Senior Vet at ESPWWA, said the workshop was an “excellent experience”.
“The workshop itself was wonderful opportunity to share experiences, ideas, skills tools, learning materials an even common terminology in local languages,” he said. “Getting to know obstacles and solutions in each country was really inspiring, and I'm quite sure that some countries are going to try to apply other countries experiences.”
International Donkey Welfare Officer Anna Saillet travelled from the UK to take part.
“Combining theory with practice in a range of different settings, the workshop has been led by the workshop participants themselves who have shown real dedication and enthusiasm for their work. It is exciting to see knowledge from all over the world being pulled together in one place to provide a framework that will no doubt help to develop the knowledge and skills of many hoof care professionals in the future,” she said. “I have been totally blown away by the level of knowledge and expertise that our team has in so many different countries and feel very proud to now be able to say that I am part of such a formidable, and friendly, team.
“Of course no trip to Egypt would be complete without standing in awe beneath the wonder and beauty of the pyramids, remembering of course that much of the hard work to create these immense structures was probably done on the backs of humble donkeys,” she said.