It's the day you've all been anticipating for weeks, right? Eagerly planning ways to celebrate? Thinking of your favorite donkey? Imagining the magic and wonder of Donkey Day morning?
I can't imagine why not.
Our daily lives are so far removed from these gentle creatures, that you might even wonder, when was the last time you even encountered one? Certainly not in your suburban streets or downtown cafes!
I'll be honest. Until one stray donkey showed up on my doorstep, I didn't give donkeys much thought. I'd always imagined myself being a horse owner - something along the lines of a black and white pinto, like Little Joe's mare on Bonanza. So cool!
Instead, this is what I got.
Flash been a delightful, entertaining addition to our family. Just look at that face.
And he has made me aware of both the contribution, and the plight, of millions of donkeys in this world.
There are over 44 million donkeys worldwide. With over half of them are in Asia, and the remaining are sort of split between Africa and South America. Most are working donkeys, assisting poor families as their means of transportation and source of income. It is estimated that up to 20 people can be dependent on one working equine in some impoverished countries. As pack animals, donkeys are reliable and strong. They are suited for pulling plows, pulling carts, hauling water and supplies, and are cheaper than oxen or horses. They are drought tolerant and perfect for developing countries' climates.
We often forget that America was developed on the backs of donkeys and mules. Railroads, farms, towns and mines were established with the hard work of these loyal animals. Sadly, they've been relegated to the status of "outdated" and "worthless," the subject of jokes and ridicule.
Today, they are mostly used as pets, and I must say...they make outstanding companions. I love that they are being used for therapy as well. They are beneficial to those with autism, as well as providing social help to abuse victims and the elderly.
Donkeys at Carbonite mine, circa 1900 source
Google "donkey plight" and you'll see images of overworked, undernourished, neglected and abused animals. It is so very sad! Donkeys are vital to the survival of families around the world, who often do not have access to proper veterinary care (ex. in Sudan in 2007, there was one vet per 5.6 million animals) and are subject to disease and wretched working conditions. The numbers are shocking, especially given that millions of people are dependent on them. Here is an article from 2008 that is fascinating and heartbreaking.
In short, donkeys need help. And with the vastness of other, more pressing needs in this world, they are mostly forgotten - they are the lowliest of the low. There is something in me that wants to do something to change that. They are God's creatures, and deserve better.
I'm celebrating World Donkey Day (which is part of International Donkey Week) by supporting two organizations that are doing great work.
Want to help donkeys, too? Here are two fantastic ways:
Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue
Last week, I visited with Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in San Angelo, TX. He and his team are doing an AMAZING job of rescuing and rehabilitating donkeys in the US. I can't say enough about this man's passion for helping these animals who are in dire need. I hope to adopt a friend for Flash from PVDR soon. (YAY!)
You can donate to PVDR here.
The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary in the UK is an organization that works worldwide for the welfare of donkeys. They do an incredible service to communities and families by improving the health and well-being of the donkeys they depend on. There is a ton of information (and lots of really cute donkeys) on their website. In the 27 countries they work in, people are helped because their donkeys are helped. Isn't that awesome??
You can find out ways to help The Donkey Sanctuary here.
So, I hope you'll celebrate World Donkey Day by taking your favorite donkey out for lunch or serving him breakfast in bed. KIDDING! How about just appreciating these sweet, hard-working, cute and somewhat opinionated (in a good way) animals?
And tell me....what do YOU think about donkeys?