It has been a very intense 24 hours in Tanzania. Yesterday afternoon, I took the slow and dusty journey by public 4x4 from Arusha deep into the Maasai lands. My travelling companions are Johnson Lyimo, project coordinator for MAWO (Meru Animal Welfare Organisation, who we fund for their donkey projects and are staffed completely by volunteers) and Dr Semufali, recently appointed to the new government post of Animal Welfare Inspector for the region.
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:
During an equine welfare conference last year, our team met an interesting Tunisian vet called Jaber Belkhiria who has been working to link city vets with rural communities to provide veterinary care in the more remote areas. Since the conference, our team has been in regular contact with Jaber, offering advice on approaching communities of donkey owners and providing educational materials.
Everything we do is a training opportunity, including veterinary and other direct interventions. In India, we are working hard to improve the welfare of donkeys employed at many of the country’s brick kilns. Donkeys help their owners by carrying heavy loads of bricks. However wounds are common where ill-fitting pack saddles rub the skin.
Donkey Sanctuary India veterinary staff were shocked when a donkey arrived at one of their clinics following a vicious attack of human cruelty. Mr Kaalu, an orphan who was loaned the donkey by its owner in order to help him earn a living, explained that he had arrived at work to find the donkey seriously injured. Despite being kept in a shelter overnight, it looked like the donkey had been attacked with acid and cut with a sharp object.