The Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary celebrated International Day of the Donkey on Saturday 8th May by talking to 350 of its supporters taking part in this year’s Donkey Week about the overseas aspect of its work.
International Day of the Donkey aims to highlight the worthy contribution donkeys make throughout the world and in particular overseas where they provide a daily lifeline to millions of the world’s poorest people.
The Donkey Sanctuary provides sanctuary from suffering to donkeys in developing countries. Its supporters were able to meet some of the charity’s key staff from Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Mexico over the weekend, who are currently on an important training and strategic trip to the UK.
Millions of the world’s poorest people rely on donkeys for transportation and to keep them supplied with the basic necessities of life – food and clean water– and enable them to earn enough money to support their families.
Stephen Blakeway, Director of Overseas Operations, says: “Donkeys are hardy creatures and well-adapted to life in hot climates and inhospitable environments, but in many ways their toughness works against them. Because donkeys have a high pain threshold and a stoical nature, many owners fail to notice when they are sick or injured, and keep them working when they need treatment and rest.”
The Donkey Sanctuary’s overseas team has been working to help these loyal, long-suffering animals for over 33 years and works to alleviate the suffering of sick or injured donkeys by providing veterinary care and preventative treatment, and works in partnership with communities, to equip them to deliver this care themselves.
Stephen adds: “We are training vets and Government-employed animal health workers, educating donkey owners about welfare, and doing our best to change harmful habits and practices. For example, poor harnesses cause donkeys severe and avoidable pain as well as being much less effective for carrying loads or pulling carts. In many of our overseas locations we make simple harnesses from cheap and locally sourced materials, distribute them to donkey owners, and then show members of the community how to make them for themselves.”
For many years The Donkey Sanctuary has also been going into schools to teach children about donkey health and welfare. But now the charity is branching out, recognising the need to communicate with all the members of a donkey-owning community.
“We are striving to communicate our message to donkey owners and to train the vets and animal workers who work with them, so that our supporters’ money can reach as many as possible of the millions of working donkeys and mules in need of our help.” says Stephen.
To support The Donkey Sanctuary, which relies entirely on donations and legacy gifts, and to find out further information call 01395 578222 or visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk