You can’t make a difference to the welfare of donkeys in remote communities without investing time in building relationships. The Foundation for Animal Welfare in Cameroon (FAWCAM) recently expanded their staff team by employing two new veterinary nurses to live, work and have a permanent presence in donkey-owning communities in the North West province. This week, I met the new staff who are both funded by The Donkey Sanctuary and who are investing their time to make a difference.
Victorine Nanga studied veterinary nursing at a local college in Jakiri. Victorine told me that after graduating, she carried out ethno-veterinary research. Faced with a blank look from me, she explained further that she had studied local Cameroonian beliefs and practices about how people use local grasses, leaves and other natural articles to treat their animals in the absence of Western veterinary medicines. Papaya seeds are used to deworm and leaves from a local plant are used to treat mange. After all, many of the drugs we now rely on originally came from rainforest plants. Although this is her first role with donkeys, Victorine loves how docile and calm the donkeys are in this area and she is really excited to learn more about them.
Isidore Njiki graduated at the same time as Victorine and soon started working with a local vet at his clinic in the regional capital. He says, “My desire from school was to do welfare work, to see animals treated well and in good condition.” Although Isidore has worked with a few donkeys before, his biggest surprise about donkeys so far has been that they are such good companions to people. “They really take care of their people,” he says.
Victorine and Isidore have only been in post for around four months, but have already started making a real difference to the communities I’ve visited. They have both been working hard to build relationships with the communities; every Monday, they take motorbike taxis to a different community and stay in each village for three or four days, staying with the donkey owners themselves. They walk together with the owners from their homes to the market to understand the welfare and challenges and to offer the right support.
After a couple of days with Victorine and Isidore, I’m feeling really energised and inspired by their work. They are true donkey heroes of Cameroon!