Today’s blog comes from one of our funded collaborators All About Animals in the Gambia. Its work to improve donkey welfare includes community training, such as teaching harness making using locally sourced materials, and welfare education. Jacci Jaques, one of All About Animals’ Trustees, sent us this lovely update about a rescue last year…
It was May 2014 when we were called to Bakoteh rubbish tip one Saturday afternoon. Bakoteh tip covers a vast area where donkeys vie for space alongside heavy lorries and tractors. The donkeys and owners work in harsh, hot conditions, travelling to and from the tip daily collecting and delivering rubbish, to earn as little as a pound a day. We do a lot of work at this tip and have set up an association there so that donkey owners and users can attend our workshops on harnessing, foot care, good nutrition and general animal husbandry.
When we arrived on this particular day, a donkey that was rented to a man named Saur was in a bad way. The donkey was weak and covered in so many wounds that he was unable to walk to where he needed to in order to tip his heavy load. We were given permission to just tip the load where the donkey was standing then we very slowly walked the donkey back to our ‘hospital’ and left him to rest. Saur isn’t a cruel man – just struggling to work with a donkey without any experience. He had been working with a wheelbarrow when someone offered to buy a donkey he could work with and they could split the earnings. Neither of them knew anything about donkey welfare.
Saur decided that he would rather work with a wheelbarrow and the owner of the donkey said as the donkey was in such a bad way he didn’t want him back, so he came to stay with us. He was just very exhausted, weak and needed a good rest. After 12 weeks of rest and correct feeding, the donkey was very strong and ready for work. We wanted to make sure he had a happy productive life.
Meanwhile we were out at Kunkachang near Yundum to check on some donkeys when we found a man that we have known for several years with his head in his hands weeping. His donkey had died and he was devastated. ‘What will I do without a donkey?’ he cried. It was his only way of
earning money, and he has a big family and lots of children.
An idea was forming ... this man looked after his donkey so well – he use to cycle eight miles to come and see us at the tip to learn all about good welfare practices. So we told him we may be able to help – our little donkey needed a good home.
Over the next few days whilst we prepared the donkey for his new home, the man walked eight miles every day to help us with the little donkey. He took him on the understanding that it would be a lifetime loan, this donkey cannot be sold. We still visit the pair of them regularly – and he calls us often to thank us ‘for saving his family’.