Lying between several big hills and a 30-minute walk from the Blue Nile River is the small Ethiopian village of Wojer. The community relies mainly on mixed livestock and crop production and the village lacks almost all basic infrastructure including electricity, running water – even a bridge to cross the river in order to access the market, health centre and school.
Our international teams are invaluable in our efforts to improve the welfare of donkeys around the world and every single individual’s contribution is appreciated. But today, in honour of International Women’s Day, we would like to give special recognition to the role of the women in our overseas programmes – from harness makers and accountants to community education officers and vets. Their contribution, whether working directly with donkeys and communities or supporting field staff in administration duties, is incredible and we would not have the same impact without their help.
Under the crisp, winter sky of Addis Ababa, the Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia (DSE) team have spent the last 10 days together to share and learn from their successes in 2014 and to plan their activities for the coming year. Until a few years ago, the focus was on treating as many donkeys as possible but the team found there was a limit to the number of donkeys they could reach and the root causes of the welfare problems were not being addressed so they would see the same problems, often preventable ones, reoccurring.
Selam (Hello), I am Rachel (or Ra’hel as I have been renamed here in Ethiopia). I am the incredibly lucky student that has been selected by The Donkey Sanctuary and the British Veterinary Association for this year’s travel scholarship. The Donkey Sanctuary has sent me out to Ethiopia to learn about the working donkeys and at the same time carry out a small study that I hope will contribute to the growing understanding of these animals in Ethiopia. I am spending four weeks in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, with Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia.
Today is Ethiopian New Year – and they are welcoming in the year 2007! Confused? Unlike ours, the Ethiopian year is based on the Coptic calendar and has 13 months (as their tourist board boasts: 13 months of sunshine!), with different names to our own. And so while today in the UK it is 11th September, in Ethiopia it is Meskerem 1 – New Year’s Day!
To celebrate this national holiday, Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia’s Country Manager, Bojia Duguma, sent us an e-card and this lovely message: