80p out of every £1 goes directly on donkey welfare and care
In 2008 we were looking for local harness makers in El Saf brick kilns when I met an elderly man called Salah. I was with Chris Garrett, International Harness Consultant for The Donkey Sanctuary. At that time we knew that the hitching point where the cart is attached to the harness was the main cause of wounds in all the kilns.
The story is familiar, repeated since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in rural Shropshire, where I’m from, and still unfolding here in Rajasthan in the little village of Banmor. The village itself looks old, squeezed in between the busy dual carriageway between nearby cities of Gwalior and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, and the equally busy rail track. We sit under a tree with local donkey and mule owners. Small tin cups of the rich spicy chai (tea) are passed around and folk start to talk.
We all enjoy seeing pictures of donkey foals exploring and enjoying all that life has to offer, however, what does the future hold for foals once these bundles of fluff begin to grow up? Well the truth of the matter is, it depends.
The life of donkeys in Great Britain can vary wildly between those leading happy, enriched and healthy lives; to those who are provided with just enough to meet their basic welfare needs; and sadly, to those who are forgotten, mistreated and abused through incorrect management, ignorance, neglect or wilful cruelty.
Every donkey that arrives at The Donkey Sanctuary has a story to tell. Knowing the background of the donkeys who come into our care is often an important part of understanding their individual character, behaviour or care needs. Today I would like to introduce you to the story of three very special donkeys called Rocky, Eidie and Jenny.
Many of you will have read about little Viola, her mother’s inability to feed her and subsequent transfer to our Italian Sanctuary, Il Rifugio degli Asinelli. Fabrizio, our Italian Donkey Welfare Adviser, has kindly sent me an update with a picture of Viola with Daniela and a video of the foal enjoying her feed. It has not been plain sailing for Viola as she has struggled to gain weight.
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.”