Two inspiring people received their Dr Elisabeth Svendsen Award for Lifetime Contribution to Donkey Welfare at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, last week.
Flying in from Mexico and Ethiopia, the award winners, Dr Aline Schunemann de Aluja and Professor Feseha Gebreab attended a ceremony at the charity’s headquarters where they were presented with their awards in recognition of their outstanding contribution to donkey welfare.
At 92, Dr Aline Schunemann de Aluja, a trained vet and Professor of Parasitology, based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), has dedicated a lifetime to the care of animals and donkeys in particular. In 1984 she met Dr Svensden from The Donkey Sanctuary when she was on a visit to Mexico. Their shared devotion to donkeys helped in founding a vital project in Mexico which began with a mobile clinic for working donkeys. Known as just ‘Donkey’ the project now leads the UNAM Vet School’s Equine Department.
Chair of the charity’s Trustees, Professor Stuart Reid said: “Her continuing energy and passion for donkeys is extraordinary. Recently she secured a grant from the Mexican government to improve conditions for donkeys being traded at San Bernabe Market as well as continuing to work at UNAM and travelling Mexico championing the health and welfare of donkeys and other animals. She is a shining example to us all.”
Professor Feseha Gebreab, another vet and Professor of Parasitology, based in Ethiopia was responsible for the foundation of the Addis Ababa University (AAU) Veterinary Faculty and, following a meeting with Dr Svensden in 1986, a meeting facilitated by a trustee who is still with us, the Ethiopian Donkey Health and Welfare Project. His concern for the plight of donkeys in Ethiopia drove him to build a project developed with The Donkey Sanctuary and the AAU Veterinary Faculty around direct care and education which included research and trips for Ethiopian veterinary students to the UK.
“Professor Feseha’s fantastic work that he started now includes harness and hoof care interventions, deworming and free veterinary treatments plus a tremendous programme of education for primary schools,” said Stuart Reid. “The project is a leading light in The Donkey Sanctuary’s international programme and has become a training hub. We are hugely indebted to Professor Feseha and his dedication to caring for donkeys – he is a true pioneer.”
The Donkey Sanctuary currently supports projects in over 27 countries worldwide reaching in excess of one million donkeys. The projects aim to provide veterinary treatment, teaching in donkey care and welfare and empower local communities to enhance the working lives of their loyal friends. In many parts of the world, the donkey is the only form of transportation at their disposal that helps their owners to earn a living.