The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust
Fighting Poverty- Feeding Families
2006 has been a very exciting year for us, with a lot of milestones and a lot of 'firsts'. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all so much for enabling it to happen with your generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness and help both financially and practically with donations of tack or practical help. It is thanks to you that a lot more horses and donkeys and their owners will have more to celebrate this year. This shorter newsletter is to bring you up to date on events since the summer and to wish you on behalf of all at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, a very healthy, happy and peaceful festive season.
The Donkey Project - a new start for Gambian families
When I visited Sambel Kunda in August, it gave me great pleasure to visit the donkeys that have been donated to families thanks to the generosity of our supporters. These donkeys really are valued and are well looked after. The carers of donkeys that had gone out during the rains had been unable to build mud block stables but had built all sorts of temporary stabling to keep their donkeys sheltered.
One man had given his 'kitchen hut' to the donkey and his poor wife was cooking under the eaves! We arrived with no prior warning and with the exception of 2 donkeys who were withdrawn from their carers (one because it was ill and the other because he had allowed it to develop harness sores). The rest were well rounded, very contented and highly prized. It was lovely to see the way that the carers had come to terms with each donkey's idiosyncrasies.
One worked very hard with the plough or cart, but would not tolerate a rider, although our vet could not find anything apparently wrong with her back. Another owner was full of praise for his donkey's capacity for hard work on the farm but he said that the donkey was in charge. When it felt it had done enough it simply stopped. He said that all he could do if it did that was to go home because the donkey wouldn't negotiate when he was tired!
There are now 55 donkeys on the scheme and we have decided to freezemark them all so that we can positively identify them.
For £75 you can buy a donkey as a very unique Christmas gift and you could spend Christmas Day pondering on a name for it. Not only does the donkey play a leading role in Christmas, by buying one you can give a very poor Gambian family that first step on the ladder out of poverty.
Further details of the Donkey Scheme can be found at www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk
The Horse and Donkey Ball
Our first charity ball, which was undertaken jointly with Riding for the Disabled (Epsom) was a great success, it was a sell out and we managed to raise £7,750.
Hickstead Ltd had prepared the venue beautifully and our guests arrived to the sound of Gambian drummers and an extremely talented kora (Gambian stringed instrument) player and singer. We were entertained during an excellent dinner by a group of very accomplished musicians and singers from Christ's Hospital School. Their performance was outstanding and they did it all to help the charities and made no charge at all. I am sure that we shall hear more of those young performers in the future as talent like that is bound to make the headlines. We are trying to persuade them to make a CD of the music that they performed on the night as a souvenir of a wonderful evening.
We were also lucky enough to have the services of a very proficient magician, Christian, (also from Christ's Hospital). He had us all wondering at his magic and he was a real asset to the proceedings.
There was an auction filled with exciting items to cater for all tastes, including a trip to The Gambia for 2, a days yachting, a half an hour in a light aircraft - with or without aerobatics, lessons from various equestrian personalities, polo, bed and breakfast in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival, works of art - the list goes on! We also had some lovely raffle prizes, so there was something for everyone.
The band, The Fabulous Fugband, were excellent and we can highly recommend them to liven any event, our only sadness was that we couldn't dance to their music for much longer, I think they would have kept people dancing till dawn.
Inevitably a function like this could not happen without help from a great many very wonderful people and we would like to express our sincere thanks to the following people and organisations. We would also like to thank all the people who attended the event and bid so generously at the auction, thanks to you all it was a very successful fundraising evening.
Di & Martin Brooks
Carr and Day and Martin
Carriage Driving Magazine
Christian the magician
Christ's Hospital Musicians
Cowdray Park Polo Club
Diane Henchen Art
Dodson and Horell
Edinburgh Woollen Mill
Epsom RDA, The Volunteers and Riders
The Fabulous Fugband
The Gambia Experience
Hayley Conference Centres
Helen Tinner photography
Ken and Pauline Humphries
The International Wine Competition
Malik N'Jok's musicians
Mayes and Scrine Equine Veterinary Practice
Mole Valley Printers
Ali and Bob Newton
Dr & Mrs Polwin
Ken Storr from Waitrose Epsom
Tesco's (Broadbridge Heath)
Wyevale Garden Centre
Secretts Garden Centre
Thank you, Thank you
Everyone who attended the Ball must have appreciated all the work that went into making the evening such a success. Everyone involved knows who they are.
A very big thank you from all who had 'a Ball'. And a huge thanks to Heather and Judith. We have to assume that Horse and Donkey managed to carry on despite your mind being distracted by organising such a memorable evening'.
Gambia Horse and Donkey touches many people's lives
One of our staff, Borry, has shown great aptitude for veterinary work. He expressed a desire to go to college to learn to do more. We were able to secure him a place at The Gambia College on a course to become an Animal Health Officer. The course started in September and we have provided him with a scholarship.
It occurred to me that there may be others like Borry who would like to learn more but either cannot afford it or have no prospects of work when it is completed. I am looking into the possibility of setting up more scholarships because we desperately need more trained staff to take our training to other parts of the country. This is the way forward for horses and donkeys in Gambia. We acknowledge that we need to have a presence in other areas of the country, including the North Bank, but we need trained staff to make it work.
I hope to have more information about this possibility in the next newsletter.
With the exception of our Gambian staff, ALL work for the charity is carried out by volunteers. They do a really wonderful job and we could not have made the outstanding progress we have done without them.
I am loathe to name people in case I leave someone out, but the following people have given of their time and expertise above and beyond the call of duty and deserve to be acknowledged: Janet Thurnheer, Martha Owen, Ann Varley, Judith Parkes, Sue Adams, Liz Serinken, Claudia Bunn, Carol Graham, Athena and Maria Tasou and Greg Stewart, Lisa, Peter Coote and Janet, Jo Over, Ramsay Hovell, Derek Osborne and especially my husband, Garth and daughters Victoria and Rachel. There are many, many more who have helped in so many ways and we are deeply indebted to you all.
We still have a few Christmas cards available for sale, or if you care to visit our website at www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk you will see the Christmas Cards and a selection of blank cards that we now have available.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE - A boy who really cares
Anyone who has visited Sambel Kunda will know of a donkey by the name of Roy Keene. He is the one who wakes us at night with his braying and he is the Alpha male of the village. He is a donkey with attitude, a magnificent fellow who has only one weakness and that is his 'boy' Cally. The boy and the donkey have a unique relationship and when Roy is with Cally he is as gentle as a lamb. They form such a team that they are regular winners in the Donkey Club gymkhanas, but woe betide the judge who walks up to pin the rosette on the meek looking donkey, Roy has blotted his copy book several times by biting the hand that holds the rosette.
One evening Cally brought Roy into the yard and told me with great sadness that he had a very big problem, he had to go to secondary school in September which was 12 miles away and he would have to stay with relatives there during the week. His family was scared of Roy and his father had said that the donkey must be sold. I asked him how he felt about that and he said that it made him very unhappy. Roy was a sisi (rascal ) and he knew Roy would be beaten by his new owner.
I suggested that perhaps he should ask his father if Roy could stay with us during term time and we could loan the family a more amenable donkey. Roy could then go home at weekends and holidays. Cally's face lit up when I suggested this and he was even happier the next day when he came to inform me that his father had agreed to the plan. I asked Cally to bring the donkey every day to be handled by our staff and by the time he was ready to go to school, Roy was so amenable that he was able to stay at home with his family. If, through our encouragement, just one child has been able to build up such a wonderful empathy with the animal in his care, then we must be doing something right. People like Cally are our hope for the future.
|We now have our own under 17's football team, formed by the members of our donkey club - the boys who come after school with their donkeys. They had their first match in August and won. We hope this bodes well for the future!||
|Are you an Ebay enthusiast?
If you go to our website, you will see that we are now registered with Ebay as a charity. Anyone selling on Ebay can ask for the money (or part of it) to come to us.
ETHIOPIA - Gambia Horse and Donkey present at the International Colloquium on Working Equines
Thanks to the British Equine Veterinary Association Trust two Gambians were able to attend the Fifth International Colloquium on Working Equines in Addis Ababa. Jibby, our manager, Jabel Sowe, the Director of Livestock Services, and Heather attended this extremely interesting and educational event which was organized by the Donkey Sanctuary and the University of Addis Ababa. We are now keen to make good use of what we learnt and we have already had to call upon some of the contacts we made to help and advise us in the treatment of Epizootic Lymphangitis.
The initial results from the research the Liverpool and Glasgow University have been doing together with our staff on Sleeping Sickness, which affects equines so badly in The Gambia, was presented at the Colloquium. It is essential that we find out as much as possible about this disease as it affects the animals so badly. 91% of the animals bought to us in this study had evidence of it in their blood.
Our sincere thanks go to the organizers of the Colloquium. It must have taken a huge amount of work, but it was much appreciated. Ethiopia is a beautiful country and we were made to feel very welcome. We met some very interesting people and listened to a great many presentations and we all found it very stimulating.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
Debbie's Shop - a busy weekend in Annan
Annan, in South West Scotland had a new shop in October. Debbie Finley, one of our carriage driving supporters in Scotland and the traffic warden in Annan, wanted to do something to support us. In a heated discussion (possibly on a double yellow line) she was offered the use of an empty shop for as long she wanted it. All our junk was collected together and posters were put up around the town. We opened for 2 days: we thought that was enough for apprentice shopkeepers.
The shop was full of donated items for sale and more and more items arrived over the weekend from shops and market stalls. We had a really impressive collection of new lampshades, matching duvet covers and curtains. Debbie and Ann Varley, dressed in their Horse and Donkey uniforms, proved how versatile they were in not only raising money but getting rid of all the donated stock. Two for the price of one (at 50p) quickly became 4 for a £1. Our customers wanted to know if we'd still be open for Christmas? No fear.
Debbie raised over £450 in 2 days and there is more to come. She purchased a donkey for the Donkey project which is to be called Tobias, complete with cart and plough. The additional money is to go to buy the cart and plough for a second donkey, Sue (named after Sue Adams who runs the Sponsorship Schemes and Sue Mattison, another South West Scottish carriage driver.) Sue was purchased with the support of the Stranraer drivers who donate all the money from their summer drives and training days towards this project.
What interesting things can you and your friends do to support The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust? We like to see maximum participation, with lots of fun and not too much hard work. We also like to see fund raising as an awareness opportunity not just for the Trust but also for The Gambia. Somebody looking on the map to see where it is and then booking a holiday, all helps the county.
If you would like to support us, there are several fundraising ideas on our website. Donations can either be made by cheque (made out to The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust) and sent to the address below or by online payment via our website www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk
Standing orders, however small, are a
great way of giving support as it helps us plan ahead.
We wish you a very happy Christmas