Our friendly driver Zalalem drove us 45 minutes out of the heaving centre of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to its more rural peripheries. Our journey took us to what would become one of the highlights of my and Heather Ross's visit to the country under the 2015 Dr Svendsen scholarship scheme-Cheshire Services Ethiopia, home to the first donkey assisted therapy project supported and funded by The Donkey Sanctuary outside of Europe.
In early December, we gathered in Bahir Dar, a bustling city on the shores of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, to host a workshop for our country programme community staff.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s international work used to focus on the provision of free veterinary treatment to working animals overseas. While this approach undoubtedly improved the immediate condition of the individual animal, it was difficult to sustain long-term improvements in donkey welfare since this approach
The Donkey Sanctuary co-sponsored the first Continental Consultative Stakeholders Conference on Animal Welfare in Africa at the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in Nairobi, Kenya from 30 November to 1 December 2015.
It was like any other hot, sunny April afternoon in Meshenti as fifteen-year-old Yibeltal Tegene and his three friends walked to school. As they neared the school, however, they noticed an odd shape on the dusty ground outside its fenced compound. The Grade 8 students realised that it was a donkey, presumably abandoned by its owner, lying listlessly. It appeared to be very ill, and painful wounds covered its back.
As part of the 2015 Donkey Sanctuary Scholarship, a scheme set up in memory of our founder Dr Elisabeth Svendsen providing an opportunity for staff from the UK to see and experience our work overseas first hand, Andy Perry from our donkey assisted therapy centre in Birmingham and I were thrilled to be selected to travel to Ethiopia.
So often when I work with behaviour it is such a brief connection in the life of an animal or person and then I hear no more. It might be an email enquiry about a kicking donkey from the USA, a phone call about a nervous donkey in France, advice to a member of The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team or a visit to one of our farms to help with a problem, or may be spending time with a participant on a behaviour course
Amid clouds of flour dust, heavy sacks of flour are loaded straight onto a donkeys’ back, still hot from the mill. The workers notice the hot flour burning the donkey’s skin, but for most of them, this is taken as a par for the course. It’s a hard day’s work for everyone in this busy part of Mekelle, capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.