Whether in the brick kilns of India or green meadows of Devon – foot problems are an issue affecting donkeys across the world. Twenty-nine people currently practise farriery in our projects internationally, but some in different ways to others. To make the most of their wealth of knowledge and experience The Donkey Sanctuary recently organised a workshop in Egypt to bring people together from across the world to share ideas and put together competency standards everyone could take home.
When Mary Murika was born prematurely in a hospital in Mannar, Sri Lanka, in 2002 her country was in the middle of a devastating civil war. “Her mother was in constant fear due to the bombing, shelling and gun shots,” says Sister Josephine, director of the Mannar Association for Rehabilitation of Differently Abled People (MARDAP). “They had to run from place to place to survive.”
Imagine walking the length of 225 football pitches every day for six months in hot, dusty conditions, carrying on your back a load equal to your own body weight over half that distance. That’s what the donkeys and mules working in Rajakhera, India, must do in the brickmaking season between December and June each year, as they carry bricks from fields where they are being sun-dried to the furnaces where they will be baked.
Since the Expedition Providers Association (EPA) introduced their Charter of Care for Pack Mules working in the Moroccan mountain-tourism industry in 2015, we have been working hard to help their members translate the standard into policies and implement these on the ground. This has meant a strong focus on training their ground handler teams in best practice when working loaded mules in the mountains.
Almost everything about Hargeisa is unique and there is definitely an underlying beauty to the place. The local trees are flowering with a jasmine-like smell, the arid hills surrounding town change from orange to dusky pink through the day, weaver birds zip around the acacia trees making nests and there are smiling and friendly faces everywhere I look. Camels wander around the surrounding hills, enjoying the fresh leaves on the low bushes that dot the land. No gun-toting militants here; this is not Somalia, it is Somaliland.
Xochimilco has climbed a section of Mexico City's southern wall, climbed up to the protected reserve where the woods and grassland overlook the vast spread of the city below. The water supply has not climbed with it, however- a deliberate policy to discourage further settlement, perhaps.
The donkeys of Xochimilco fill this gap, carrying water to all the people who need it up above.
I went to Xochimilco last month with a UNAM TV film crew who were making a documentary about the work of the DS-UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Donkey Project.
Something special caught the interest of Warren Barn’s resident donkeys and cats Basil and Bridgit this week, and it wasn’t food. The barn turned into a unique art gallery for Donkey Week for an exhibition and sale of vibrant oil paintings and watercolours by visiting Egyptian artist Miriam Hathout. Miriam, one of whose paintings was used as the cover for our Middle East report and who painted a Peace Donkey at the Mdina Biennale last year at a project supported by The Donkey Sanctuary, is known for her colourful depictions of donkeys in Egypt.