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The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) is a small charity, registered in both the UK and The Gambia.

The GHDT was founded in 2002 by the late Stella Marsden OBE and her sister Heather Armstrong who is the charity's Director. With no tradition of horsemanship in The Gambia and a combination of poor management, high disease risk and poverty, farmers were investing comparatively large amounts of money for a working animal only for it to die, too often within six months. Not only was this causing further hardship for the farmers, it was also creating a serious animal welfare problem and the veterinary services did not have the infrastructure or finances to be able to help the farmers.

The aim of the GHDT is to reduce rural poverty in The Gambia through improving the health, welfare and productivity of ALL animals, but working animals in particular.

A healthy working animal can increase a farming family's income by up to 500% and buying an animal is a big investment for a family. If the animal becomes sick or dies not only the animal suffers, but its owners suffer too. The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa and is unable to provide all the veterinary support that the farmers require, so when the animals become ill, sometimes the owners are simply unable to find help for it.

Keeping horses and donkeys healthy in The Gambia is a real challenge; insect borne diseases such as Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosomiasis), African Horse Sickness, and tick fever are all too common and when these problems are combined with poor nutrition and management caused by lack of knowledge and poverty, the results can be disastrous for the farmers.

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust has now been running for eighteen years and over those years its remit has broadened. It became clear to us that we could not simply promote equine welfare, we needed to promote good welfare to ALL animals.

In 2015 we held a residential workshop for students of the University of The Gambia in conjunction with a German animal welfare charity. It was remarkable how at the end of the week, after learning with the animals, how relaxed the students were with them and how much empathy had built up as a result of our evening discussions. These students were so enthusiastic that they went on to form The Animal Welfare Advocates. They are a group in their own right and carry out their own fundraising. Many of those students are now graduated and are stationed throughout the country. The ripples of animal Welfare are spreading.

In many countries if someone found a sick or stray dog it would be referred to an appropriate dog charity, in The Gambia, although we do have one charity doing sterling work helping stray dogs, it does not have facilities to hospitalise or keep dogs in need. The growing band of Animal Advocates were identifying animals in need of help and not all of them were horses and donkeys. We felt that these passionate caring people needed support and encouragement in their quest to help animals in need and as there was nowhere else for them to turn to we took the patients in. The vast majority of our patients are still horses and donkeys but we are treating and rehoming a growing number of cats and dogs as well. We have also included canines in our school education programme in an attempt to teach children empathy and we hope that by understanding dogs a little better, the children will also be able to avoid the danger of Rabies.

We believe in providing the Gambian people with the skills and knowledge to prevent and solve their own problems, creating a long term, sustainable solution.

We rely heavily upon dedicated volunteers who offer their time and services to help us, and we employ a team of local Gambian staff. The GHDT is a small charity that has had many great achievements, but to continue this work your support is urgently sought. We need your help and we make every single penny count. Our aims are achieved through a variety of projects including:


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