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Meeting the Mamas of the Maasai-lands

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.

Mamas leading their donkeys

Arriving at our Sanctuary in Lamu

On the small island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya, a short boat ride takes you from the airport to town – and the very first thing that every visitor notices as they climb up the harbour-wall steps is that the ‘traffic’ on the island comes solely in the four-legged variety with barely a wheel to be seen. The island’s population of around 3,000 donkeys is relied upon for pretty much all forms of transport and has been tended to by The Donkey Sanctuary for over 25 years.

Working donkeys of Lamu by the sea

Making ‘Donkey Island’ a safer haven

A chance encounter at Nairobi’s Wilson airport has just highlighted to me the strength of Donkey Sanctuary Kenya’s (DSK) networking and advocacy for donkey welfare. I am currently at about 22,000 feet, heading out to DSK’s centre on Lamu island with Josiah, the Education Officer from DSK, and after a stunning take-off across Nairobi National Park (think of an aerial view of giraffe and zebra herds – quite a treat), our tiny plane is flying mercifully smoothly.

Governor Issa Timamy (left) with DSK's Josiah Ojwang

Super Donkey stage debut!

Partly as a little light-relief during a packed week of activities, Louise, Harriet and I made our acting debuts this morning in Warren Barn. We are currently hosting around 25 of our international partners from Kenya, India, Egypt, Mexico and Ethiopia to share approaches and to look at how the new Donkey Sanctuary strategy will direct our projects over the next 5 years. And what better way to explore strategic approaches than with a bit of drama?

Super Donk aka Alex!


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