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Malnourished, festering sores, and heavy weights on their backs - Norfolk organisation pioneers project to help donkeys

PUBLISHED: 11:32 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 29 August 2019

Working horses, donkeys and mules are an essential mode of transport for rural communities in Haiti. Photo: Courtesy of World Horse Welfare

Working horses, donkeys and mules are an essential mode of transport for rural communities in Haiti. Photo: Courtesy of World Horse Welfare

Courtesy of World Horse Welfare

Malnourished, festering sores, and heavy weights on their backs - these are just some of the problems experience by donkeys that Norfolk animal welfare experts are trying address.

Andrew Hickley (left), senior communications officer for the charity and Emma Hales (right), international programme officer, at World Horse Welfare's Wacky Wednesday haitian themed event. Photo: Emily ThomsonAndrew Hickley (left), senior communications officer for the charity and Emma Hales (right), international programme officer, at World Horse Welfare's Wacky Wednesday haitian themed event. Photo: Emily Thomson

As one of the poorest countries in the world, Haitian communities are not equipped with the knowledge or resources to care for their donkeys they rely upon so heavily and this is what World Horse Welfare is helping to change.

An international charity based in Snetterton that works to improve the lives of horses in the UK and around the world, the charity's most recent campaign has been helping horses, donkeys and mules in Haiti that are heavily relied on by communities to provide them with their livelihoods.

But with little education of the care needed for these animals, when working donkeys become injured or sick, it can have a huge impact.

Donkeys regularly suffer from mal-nutrition which makes their bones protrude so sores can develop and fester, with heavy weight on their backs and lack of support and padding this can also cause physical problems and if a donkey develops colic it can be fatal if left untreated.

World Horse Welfare's campaign in Haiti to help communities and their working donkeys and muels have recieved match funding from the government. Photo: Emily ThomsonWorld Horse Welfare's campaign in Haiti to help communities and their working donkeys and muels have recieved match funding from the government. Photo: Emily Thomson

Emma Hales, the charity's international programme officer, said: "Owners in Haiti care about their donkeys but they just don't know how to care.

"We have been working with vet agents in Haiti to try to increase their equine knowledge. We have also been training saddlers so that they can use what resources they have to make saddle packs that are affordable but addresses some of these issues."

Experts have been offering donkey owners in the Caribbean country the chance to gain the skills to be able to look after their donkeys, that in-turn will look after them.

"We work with the local communities who use donkeys and mules for their day-to-day work, travelling for transportation, to help carry water for their families, going to and from markets to make income," said Ms Hales.

Working horses, donkeys and mules are an essential mode of transport for rural communities in Haiti. Photo: Courtesy of World Horse WelfareWorking horses, donkeys and mules are an essential mode of transport for rural communities in Haiti. Photo: Courtesy of World Horse Welfare

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"These animals are involved with so many aspects of their lives that supporting the donkey or mule's health and welfare can support the families to have a more secure livelihood."

The charity has also been providing owners with education in business skills to enhance their livelihoods.

Ms Hales added: "Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere so anything we can do to help horses, mules and donkeys but also help the people and the economy is very important to us."

In support of the charity's work, match funding has been provided from the UK government, meaning whatever it raises for the Haiti campaign before September 17 will be doubled.

To raise as much money as it can before that deadline, World Horse Welfare organised a Haitian themed event.

Wacky Wednesday took place at Hall Farm, Snetterton, August 21, visitors were able enjoy tractor rides, pony and donkey grooming and feeding, craft activities, face painting or a play in the park.

The charity has three other farms across the UK in Blackpool, Scotland and Somerset which have also been raising money for the campaign.

Maxine Langley-Cooper, the centre promotions officer, said: "We are the first equine charity to receive this match funding so it's really important to try to maximise that and raise as much as possible, and to get families involved to show them the work we do here and abroad."

For more information or to donate visit https://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Haiti.

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