You might remember the moving video we posted recently reflecting on the work donkeys did for the women of Kenya during the 2011 droughts and in its aftermath. In it, the women discussed how communities rely on donkeys to transport water for the home, as well as for their cattle, especially during the frequent droughts. In the 2011 drought, things got so bad that cattle, goats and even donkeys began dying of starvation and thirst. But throughout this exceptionally bad period, the women were able to continue to transport food and water huge distances to keep their families and livestock alive thanks to their donkeys shouldering the heavy loads. They also talk about the emotional bond they have with these animals and highlight the ‘invisible’ work donkeys do during droughts to support communities.
Now, this video is being used by our partners at The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya (DSK) as an awareness tool to highlight the importance of donkeys to rural communities – and the responses to it have been so positive we wanted to share them with you.
Donkeys are largely ignored by Kenyan vets who concentrate on cattle. In a bid to ensure donkeys get equal consideration, DSK vets Solomon and David, along with harness officer Amos, have shown the video at two Kenyan veterinary conferences and a symposium with ECHO, an EC humanitarian funding body. The team used the video to highlight not only the economic role donkeys play in rural communities, but also their social value to the people, predominantly women, who rely on them in their day-to-day lives. The care shown by these communities is contrary to the myth that donkeys are considered worthless, and changing this perception is one of the Kenyan team’s key objectives.
By giving a voice to the women of Mwingi, the video has inspired change in the opinions of key players in donkey welfare. Many who attended the conferences found the video very moving and admitted it helped them recognise the gap in donkey care. They also expressed surprise by the attachment the women show towards their donkeys. This is especially significant given a new policy report by The Brooke. Entitled ‘Invisible helpers: Women’s views on the contributions of working donkeys, horses, and mules to their lives’, the report details findings from their Voices from Women research and explores the roles of working equines in the lives of women. Members of The Donkey Sanctuary’s International Department will attend the launch of the report at Parliament this week.