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sri dec15 1A visionary year draws to a close

After a hectic two months of donkey activity and enterprise, December was a quieter month. Although rain hampered our many plans, building construction continued on the DAT centre, we are getting closer to obtaining approval for the donkey clinic, our donkeys are being better cared for and fed and we all took a well-deserved break over Christmas. 2016 promises to be a big year for the welfare of donkeys, assisted therapy for MARDAP’s differently abled children and village economic development especially for vulnerable groups, thanks to the strong support of agencies such as Animal Aid Abroad, Australia and Donkey Sanctuary UK.

sri dec15 2Site improvement at temporary shelter

During the last two months Mannar has experienced heavy rain. Most of the urban area went under water, and so did our donkey compound. Our efforts to raise the level of the ground by layering it with rubble, was also frustrated. Trucks found it difficult to enter the site. Instead, we drained the water from the property by digging a fifty metre drain. Many thanks to Roysdan, a local volunteer, who helped a lot. This action drained most of the water.

Due to the rain we were not able to conduct our DAT program with the MARDAP children and also the scheduled training of MARDAP teachers in donkey awareness and handling. One of our Bridging Lanka directors from Colombo came to Mannar to spend time with our donkeys but this plan, too, was aborted because of the unfavourable conditions.

sri dec15 3DAT Centre at Murunkan

After being delayed by the wet and many planning meetings with MARDAP director and staff, the Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre construction resumed this month. The building is around 35 per cent complete. The foundations are down and 23 pillars erected. MARDAP has requested the third payment to continue the work.


sri dec15 4Donkey clinic and community education centre

We are still in the process of getting building approval for the donkey facility from the various government agencies – Urban Development Authority (UDA), Railway Department and the Pradesiya Sabha (PS – local council). All the documents were submitted to the PS who then asked us to undertake ‘street line clearance’ between the property and the railway line, which has now been completed. Now the long wait for approval as we live in hope of a positive result.

After a considerable time of negotiation, clarification and refining, funding applications for the construction of the two facilities – the Donkey Clinic & Community Education Centre and the Donkey Assisted Therapy Centre – were submitted to The Donkey Sanctuary UK (DSUK) for consideration.

DSUK will assist us with building costs and the provision of technical advice and support and Animal Aid Abroad’s financial contribution will be directed solely to sustaining the ongoing donkey clinic operation. The clinic is vital to the whole donkey welfare program because it will be at this facility that, batch by batch, the majority of the donkeys in Mannar will be assessed, treated and where appropriate, tamed and trained for a better and more useful existence.

sri dec15 5An injured donkey

We received a phone call on a Friday around 6.30pm from a person who told us that a donkey had been suffering for nearly four days without any food and was dying. We immediately went there and inspected the animal to find an ugly wound on its back leg. We discovered that the donkey had stomped on a tin can which had lodged itself in its hoof. People who saw the pain the donkey was in wanted to remove the tin from its leg but were afraid that the donkey may get violent. Their remedy was to attach a hook to a long pole and try to dislodge the foreign body.

Alas, their efforts hurt the donkey even more and the foot started to swell before becoming a large and angry wound. As a result the donkey couldn’t walk and lay on the ground for four days. We administered some first aid but the next day the donkey died. We organised for it to be removed by the Urban Council. It was sad for us. There are lots of donkeys suffering due to stepping on sharp objects.

sri dec15 6Sponsoring a donkey

We are thrilled that seven of our donkeys now have permanent sponsors. Their pledge of Rs 2,500 (AU$25) a month has enabled us to provide a much more nutritious feeding program. The regular feed comprising leftovers from the garment factory cafeteria and supplies from local vegetable vendors is now being supplemented by the purchase of rice bran, oil, pulses and grasses.


sri dec15 7Sheila is a lovely donkey. She is calm, very tame and is friendly towards humans. Because of that she has been selected as a DAT donkey, as we know she will be gentle with our MARDAP children.

Two months ago we noticed that Sheila was pregnant and would deliver a baby soon. On the birthday of our Saviour Jesus Christ, she gave birth. Sheila’s foal is very cute. I can say that Sheila is a one of the best donkeys at our shelter.

Deworming date 27/10/2015
Microchip date – 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Helen Beeby (Melbourne)

sri dec15 8Kavi is a funny donkey! Recently he was joined by a young sister. Around three months ago we noticed that his mother, Sheila, started to chase him away from her. However he persisted in going to her for milk and continues to do so. He pays his sister no attention either. We love Kavi because he loves it when we groom him, brushing his unruly hair and making him feel special.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Microchip date: 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Lencie Harding (Melbourne)

sri dec15 9Murray is the elder male of our shelter, even though he is not yet mature. Murray plays an important protective role. When male donkeys outside the compound get the smell of the female donkeys within, they line up at the gate and want to come in. But Murray quickly goes to the gate, gets angry and in his own way says, “Don’t dare come in!”

Sometimes Robin or Kelvin forgets to close the gate. The outside male donkeys take every opportunity to enter. Murray soon chases them away and shows them who’s boss. He is our great protector of female donkeys.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Sponsors – Murray & Zofia Felton (Melbourne)

sri dec15 11Cynthia is so cute that everyone falls in love with her. Cynthia is still drinking milk from her mother, Evelyn, but has recently started eating solid foods such as grass, rice bran, vegetables and rice from the garment factory. We never have to go to her. She comes to us but funnily enough, if we approach her, she runs away!

Cynthia loves people grooming her and people love doing that because she is a foal and furry. Most of the MARDAP children want to take Cynthia home with them.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Cynthia McKenzie (Melbourne)

sri dec15 12Saya is the ‘pop star’ at our shelter. She is one of Kelvin’s favourites and was the first donkey we started with. Saya used to be our office donkey for nearly three months at the Bridging Lanka workplace. She is totally tamed and friendly with everyone. For these reasons we have chosen her to be a DAT donkey. Whenever we open the gate to the shelter, Saya is the first one to rush to us, singing at top volume. She loves to be groomed, loves her food and loves to be with the MARDAP children.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Microchip date: 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Saya Lorback (Melbourne)

sri dec15 14Evelyn is the strongest donkey at our Shelter. We see her as the Queen of the other eleven donkeys. By far, Evelyn is the most dominant and is very assertive when it comes to getting her share of food. The other donkeys are somewhat afraid of her. Even though she is the Queen at our shelter, she still allows us to do our duties to her – feeding, grooming, watering and stroking. She is also a good mother to Cynthia.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Microchip date: 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Helen Gibbs (Tasmania)

sri dec15 15Hotham is certainly different from our other donkeys. He is not so approachable. We think it is because he’s had lots of bad experiences with humans in the past. As a result, he is not comfortable with people because he is scared that he will be hurt again. Still we are working with Hotham to clear his memory banks of negative experiences and demonstrate that we love and will take care of him. We hope to use him as a DAT donkey in the future.

Deworming date: 27/10/2015
Microchip date: 27/10/2015
Sponsor – Sue Dowling (Melbourne)




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