Peter and I said that we would not be going to India again... until we sat in our friends’ kitchen talking about the work of The Donkey Sanctuary India in Ahmedabad. Then we found ourselves saying “we are thinking of going again, would you like to come with us”?
Our friends had not been to India, but they had helped us raise money for the project in Ahmedabad, so it was with great excitement we started to plan our trip.
This time we did a few “touristy” things, like visiting a Stepwell, a Nature Reserve and Ghandi’s former residence. We also rose very early one morning for a conducted tour of old Ahmedabad, the Pols, with its beautiful carved wooden architecture. We went shopping for Indian clothes for ourselves and for Marian’s little granddaughters, and haggled at a craft fair for gifts to bring home.
We had wonderful meals, even an India/Chinese, which was interesting to say the least, and memorable meals cooked by our host Dr Saroja in her welcoming home.
It was Peter’s birthday and the staff and their families gave him a party to remember at the Farm.
But the main reason for our visit as always was to see the work at the Centre headquarters, Charhodi Farm and to go out to the sites, the brick kilns and wherever the vets are needed.
Dr Ramesh, Dr Saroja and Dr Rajesh are doing amazing work, and the condition of the working donkeys is better and better each time we visit. People come bringing their donkeys for treatment when The Donkey Sanctuary ambulance arrives, and they gather round to watch and learn. Bright red pads are distributed to the owners to protect the donkeys’ backs from the heavy loads, as well as ropes made from silk left from the textile industry. There is a programme of inoculations against Tetanus and Rabies, and a worming programme too. On one site we visited 65 donkeys were treated in this programme, and many pads and ropes distributed.
We were very impressed to see a box of basic medical supplies which is being supplied to every donkey owning community with a man from each community trained in its use. This is primary care for donkeys at level 1, beyond which they will call in the vets.
There were some sad moments too, as when a tiny donkey foal was brought into the Farm. She had been injured then abandoned, but she received loving care from all the staff. A very poorly donkey with Tetanus was brought in for treatment, but after care he started to improve and the latest news is that he recovered and went back to his owners. Another mare with a little foal at foot had a terrible hoof injury, but this was being treated, and the news of her is that the hoof has regrown and all is well.
The work at the brick kilns was just starting for the season, and the donkeys were being prepared with checks from the vets, inoculations and wormings, and also hoof care. I always feel for these people and their donkeys who work hard for long hours, toiling in appalling heat. The donkeys are so small and carry their loads stoically, knowing just what they have to do. Marian found a crying baby sitting on a stack of bricks while her mother was finishing a very long work period loading the donkeys who carry the bricks into the kiln. She cuddled the child and settled her while her mother continued to work.
On our return, our friends were “buzzing” with all they had seen. We had left money to help with the project and this has provided an open air operating theatre with an operation table so that the vets do not have to work on their knees to perform operations, and also a stretcher to manoeuvre the donkeys. It is in use now, to our great joy.
As always we are humbled by the work we have seen, the vets devotion to their cause, the donkey owners co-operation in the care of their donkeys, and the little donkeys themselves, working, staggering under their loads, but looking so much better than they did when I first went to Ahmedabad. It is a hard life for the donkeys and their owners nevertheless, and they deserve all our support and help.
I have a feeling Peter and I will be back to see what else we can do to help.
Janet and Peter