One of the highlights of my trip to Ethiopia as part of The Donkey Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme alongside Andy from our donkey-assisted interaction centre in Birmingham was a visit to a rural school in Debre Zeit. We were warmly welcomed (some would say mobbed!) by smiling children the moment we stepped out of our vehicle. Many children were fascinated by our skin colour and Andy’s tattoos!
Ethiopia as a country, is working incredibly hard to improve access to education and this progress has been revolutionary, with over 90% of primary school age children attending school.
Currently, animal welfare education does not form part of the national curriculum in Ethiopia and The Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia has established several ‘Donkey Clubs’ to promote animal welfare in schools.
Children in the Donkey Club at the Debre Zeit school are very imaginative and we were lucky enough to be given an uplifting performance of songs and drama, which was a huge privilege. The overall message of the performance was ‘donkeys are like our right hands and we must fulfil their needs and freedoms. Life is difficult without donkeys, respect and give value to donkeys.’
Parent Day talks are also popular and very effective in promoting donkey welfare in the wider community. Donkey clubs also have community outreach programmes and members are known for challenging donkey owners for any abuse they see!
Donkeys in Ethiopia work so incredibly hard but with our education and intervention, the culture and donkey welfare standards really are changing. Our dedicated project teams in Ethiopia are faced with immeasurable challenges and yet we are seeing improved donkey welfare, which makes me very proud to work for The Donkey Sanctuary.
Welfare Office Manager (GB)