Donkey Assisted Therapy Update
This month we conducted two Donkey Assisted Therapy (DAT) sessions for our MARDAP children. Nineteen children and five teachers participated. Under the guidance of the staff of The Donkey Sanctuary India and Ethiopia we started with welcoming the children and allowed them to touch, groom, pet and brush the donkeys.
We used four very well behaved and tamed donkeys along with four staff. At the conclusion of each session we asked the children to wash their hands and then thank the donkeys. We then give them sweets and asked them to review the session. Finally the children sang a song and left.
Altogether we spend one hour for DAT sessions. So far the two DAT sessions this month went well. All the children were happy and the teachers’ performance had improved greatly after our teacher training session last month. Their confidence encouraged the students to feel more comfortable with the donkeys.
DAT building works at Murunkan
After months of waiting we finally got Divisional Secretariat permission to unload gravel for the building foundation and also for the road. Thirty loads weighing 120 cubic meters were bulldozed into place under the instructions of Mr. Kirusanthan, the MARDAP officer in Murunkan.
Meanwhile arrangements are being made for the roof. We collected three quotations for roof construction and a contractor was chosen. Sr. Josephine, MARDAP Director (see photo above) and Kelvin visited the site. Kelvin asked her if we could plow the land and to sow grass seeds for donkey feed once the building was completed.
Institute of Tourism students visit our centre
Previously, we conducted a donkey tour for two senior lecturers from Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM). On the quality of the tour and detailed presentation by Kelvin, the lecturers brought 20 national tour guide students from Colombo to raise their awareness of donkeys and the strong opportunities for tourism that these animals could offer. Mannar people thought the donkeys were useless but the economic benefits alone are astounding!
Bridging Lanka director falls in love
One of our Bridging Lanka Directors, Ms. Visakha Tillekeratne who lives in Colombo, has visited us many times in Mannar. Although she always wants to see our donkeys, her busy work schedule hasn’t allowed for such pleasures. But this month she was determined to get up and close with her favourite furry creatures.
On the first day she came with her two friends. The next day she came with three Girl Guides, and the next with three younger Guides. Zeal for our donkeys brought her back again and again. Finally Visakha adopted a new born foal and named him ‘Musaeus’ after her school. A team of Girl Guides will soon descend on Mannar to help raise the profile of donkeys and undertake improvement works at our temporary donkey site.
Meeting with Mannar Police and Vet
Some days ago we had a phone call from Dr. Harshini (Mannar’s Vet) saying that the Police also wanted to join us on the donkey project. We met the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr. Sri Jayantha Peiris at his office, told him about our activities and handed over all the donkey reports. He was so happy with our work and in turn shared that his desire was to stop the suffering of donkeys in Mannar most especially those which were injured, crippled, thin and those with visible wounds. For him a priority was to establish a place to treat the donkeys.
We replied that for nearly two years we tried to construct such a clinic but faced many difficulties. At the proposed Donkey Clinic and Community Education Centre we would take care of the suffering donkeys. The ASP gave his commitment to help us obtain the approvals. This centre would house a veterinary surgeon and assistant who would undertake all the treatments on behalf of Bridging Lanka.
DAT stared the Donkey Assisted Therapy (DAT) Program last October and selected well tamed donkeys – Sheila, Saya and Murry – with substitutes, Kavi and Evelyn.
Sheila: Is the most loved donkey by the MARDAP children because she in turn loves the children. When we first welcomed Sheila to our Centre, she was very naughty, so much so that often Kelvin got close to sending her out. Sheila would always stand at the gate wanting to escape and teaching bad habits to the other donkeys. She did not allow the other donkeys to eat anything either. To influence Sheila’s behaviour, we began to spend more time with her and then began to discover the good things about her. In time she became a very well behaved and friendly donkey. Compared to the other 11 donkeys Sheila became the outstanding performer.
Saya: We started our donkey centre with Saya. Now she is a hot favourite with the children. BUT Saya is a stubborn donkey because when we take her with a lead rope Saya pulls away and doesn’t want to go where we direct it. However, if there is food involved, she comes straight away and is as cooperative as ever! Unfortunately Saya suffered from a bout of diarrhoea for a week. Upon consulting with the vet, she advised deworming. Saya is now fully recovered.
New Born King
Naomi gave birth to a healthy and beautiful foal, Musaeus, on Easter Saturday. Of the five foals born at the donkey shelter, this is the first male to emerge.
Musaeus was named and sponsored by Ms. Visakha Tillekeratne and is the first Sri Lankan sponsorship of a donkey.
The new foal is set for superstardom and has been featured in a YouTube clip having a dust bath! Click Here for the short video of this foal frolicking in dust heaven