The Donkey Sanctuary has been working with non-profit organisation the Meru Animal Welfare Organisation (MAWO) in Tanzania since 2010, helping them increase awareness of donkey welfare through harness training, welfare education and local radio programmes to achieve their vision of respect and freedom from suffering for all animals.
This month MAWO held its first Donkey Week in Maasai Land, an area inhabited by the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe. Founder and President of MAWO Johnson Lyimo told us more.
“Donkey Week kicked off with one of the most important aspects of ending animal abuse – education made fun for the younger generation. Over 50 children from Tuvaila Primary School took part in hands-on lessons on correct donkey harness use and maintenance with one compliant donkey allowing students to practise fastening special harnesses.
The harnesses were made by ten ‘Donkey Mamas’, Maasai women from Loiborsoit village, who, after training funded by The Donkey Sanctuary, can now make, sell and use welfare-friendly harnesses made from local sustainable materials. This skill not only helps supplement their income, but also spreads our message of donkey welfare.
Many of the children’s families rely on donkeys to collect water, food, firewood and building material for houses. One day these children will be in charge of the welfare of their own family’s donkeys.
Loiborsoit village was the second destination for our week of activities. There, 93 students from Loiborsoit and Emboreti Livestock College received welfare training based on the Hand, a method of assessing welfare devised by The Donkey Sanctuary. They also learnt about correct harness use, and were given lessons on how to read donkey body language – an important factor when gaining their trust and respect.
A new group of Maasai women were also there to begin their education on correct harnessing and donkey welfare. At the end of the day they took home five welfare-friendly donkey harnesses.
While we were out working directly with students and villagers for the week’s events, we knew many people at home were receiving our message about donkey welfare through a local radio station. Of the 1.5 million people who listen to the programme, 500,000 of those are donkey owners. Whether it’s in school, college or at home, learning the importance of donkey welfare changes lives for the better.”