World Storytelling Day takes place on 20th March 2010 and The Donkey Sanctuary will be celebrating by promoting our work with children throughout the world, using stories and discussions to encourage better attitudes to donkey welfare.
The brick kilns of Egypt produce a harsh working environment for all; in many cases children work long days using donkeys to transport heavy loads across the sites. Overcoming cultural and social norms while respecting traditional working practices can be one of the toughest challenges faced by The Donkey Sanctuary’s mobile teams. One method that has proved extremely successful with groups of child-workers is the use of stories to encourage them to consider the feelings of their animals and teach alternative ways of working with them.
Sally Price, our Overseas Education and Community Development Co-ordinator says “One story recounts two donkey owners, one named Gaber who uses poor harnesses, beats his animals and does not provide adequate food, rest or veterinary attention. The other, Salam, discourages beating and overloading of his donkeys and ensures that they are well fed and rested and any ailments properly seen to by a trained vet. The children are invited to discuss which is a better owner and compare the feelings of both sets of donkeys; including the vital fact that Salam’s donkeys will be likely to remain healthy and live longer; giving a more productive working life.”
The success of these storytelling sessions can be measured in the comments made by the children:
“We should think about alternatives to the beating.”
“Maybe we can substitute the beating with waving; using our voices to encourage the donkey to walk.”
“The donkeys should be rested, the loads should be lighter.”
The power of storytelling can encourage the children to empathise with their donkeys in a way that ‘grown up’ advice cannot. This World Storytelling day will see our Overseas teams continue working with children throughout the world to improve conditions for all.
In all our working locations, staff take every opportunity to raise the profile of donkeys – to influence the next generation of donkey owners, vets, teachers and the general public to respect and look after donkeys better.