Dr Elisabeth D Svendsen MBE, founder and CEO of the Donkey Sanctuary made a 25 years agreement (1995 _ 2020) to end the suffering of working donkeys in Ethiopia. The duration of the project is the maximum life of working donkeys in Ethiopian. Dr Svendsen, owner of honorary degrees from Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh visited Ethiopia, just before the fall of the Dergue regime to see the plight of donkeys, and decided to make a long term commitment.
In 1999, she gave priority to construct a donkey hospital, the first of its kind in Africa, exclusively for the benefit of working donkeys in Ethiopia. The hospital is fully equipped with standard operation room for equids, a laboratory and emergency rooms. The hospital is no longer limited to routine health care of donkeys, but for training clinical year students of the veterinary college of the university and as a training hub for emerging Donkey Sanctuary projects. Through this facility the charity reaches over hundred thousand donkeys every year since then.
The Donkey Sanctuary UK constructed a donkey welfare clinic in Addis Ababa, Mesalemia area to provide regular health care to grain market donkeys, in 2008. It was upon the request of the donkeys owners in Markato grain market. Before the construction of the clinic, a team of experts from the Debre Zeit based project visits the grain market the first Saturday each month for over 4 years. The clinic was inaugurated by David Cook, CEO of the Donkey Sanctuary and Professor Andreas Eshete, the then President of the University, Professor Feseha, project leader as well as college officials and project staff.
The charity was issued a license in August 2008 just a year after its application to the Ethiopian Embassy in London. The need of registering as a foreign charity was to effectively and efficiently coordinate the activities of the organization towards realizing the vision of the Donkey Sanctuary in Ethiopia. The country office, based in Addis Ababa, represents the views of the organization, and provides leadership and technical support to all charity projects in Ethiopia. We hope that NGO position will give us access to local and international forum to collaborate with affiliated institutions. We do not run Sanctuary in Ethiopia; we work to improve donkey welfare while it is under the care of its owner. Improving donkey welfare ultimately contributes to owner’s livelihoods, which in turn necessitates bridging between animal welfare charities and humanitarian aids who ultimately share the same community.
The Donkey Sanctuary UK, signed a five years agreement (2013 _ 2017) with the Alage ATVET College, Ministry of Agriculture, to provide support in the practical training of animal health and science professionals. The college then was the only ATVET College producing middle animal health professionals with the capacity of graduating up to a thousand professionals at a time. Most of the practicing professionals we train deep in the community projects have come from these college; we then thought why don’t we go to the source and build the capacity of the training institution; hence the 5 years commitment. We followed a Chinese proverb ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. As a foreign charity, it is not practical to reach all donkeys by ourselves. Areas of partnership mainly included supporting the practical side of Animal welfare and Equine clinical medicine, Equine husbandry and community partnership skills.
In 2014, The Donkey Sanctuary UK signed a commitment to pilot Donkey Assisted Therapy with Cheshire Services Ethiopia, at its Managesha Rehabilitation Centre. The Donkey Sanctuary UK has long term experience to share to the rest of the world that donkeys have other qualities to offer us. Ever since, The Elizabeth Svendsen Trust for children (EST) has been established by Dr Svendsen in 1970, several children with special needs have been significantly supported by the nature and quality of donkeys. The charity wants to explore ways of engaging donkeys to support rehabilitation of children with special needs in developing countries, Ethiopia.
Message from the Country Representative
The Donkey Sanctuary is an animal (donkey and mule) welfare charity based in the UK. It is a pioneering animal welfare charity that began supporting working donkeys in Ethiopia during the fall of the communist regime in Ethiopia, over two decades. It started by teaching clinical year students Donkey (equine) medicine and animal welfare in the then only Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Addis Ababa University while providing community services in four districts surrounding the faculty. The charity built a high –tech Donkey (equine) hospital in the year 1999 to strengthen student training and create a training hub for charity projects in developing countries. Later another Donkey Welfare Clinic was made available to provide services primarily for donkeys in the grain market in Markato. We hope our work raised awareness for the general public. As the demand is nationwide, later we expanded our services to northern and southern Ethiopia and also diversified our interventions. Now we operate in Amhara, Tigray, SNNPRs and Oromia. To accommodate our diversified strategic approaches and also run a full-fledged representation of the charity mission in the UK, we have registered as an independent organization, a Foreign Charity. The country office is based in Addis Ababa. Currently, we run community based projects in Amhara, Tigray, and SNNPRs and community and tertiary projects with College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture of Addis Ababa University and Alage ATVET College, Ministry of Agriculture and Donkey Assisted Therapy with Cheshire Services Ethiopia. With these projects on the ground we have created demand for donkey welfare, gathered best practices, and ended the suffering of multitudes of donkeys and livelihoods of the poor who rely on them. We want to share our experiences and best practices to those who have common goals. We think the website will serve as an instrument where we display scope of donkey (animal) welfare challenges in developing countries as well as our endeavors and success stories. The charity does not run sanctuary in Ethiopia; we care the welfare of working donkeys supporting people. The site will be a learning forum where our Education Training Resources for School Children, Farmer’s/Donkey users Training resources, Cart and Harness making as well as Animal Health Professionals’ training resources can be shared. It will also serve as a medium for strengthening our collaborations and networks with affiliated institutions including potential donors. On behalf of the Donkey Statuary works in Ethiopia, I would like to thank The Donkey Sanctuary in the UK and all its supporters. As your support continues, the team in each region is committed to reach more donkeys. More is a head of us; currently we reach only a few of the 7 million donkeys.
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