Our story begins a few years ago when our founders, Sarah and Hesther, undertook a fundraising walk for another charity through the bush from Lake Kariba to Livingstone, on which we took five donkeys to assist in carrying our daily supplies. Another member of the party had sought to purchase these donkeys, stating he wanted seven 'fit, healthy animals able to carry saddle packs'… Unfortunately, the donkeys brought to us were far from it; two of them were only around a year old, tiny and also sick, one was in foal, one was small but would have been usable if it had not been for the gaping sore on her back, one had a foal at foot and one was just about ok - this was our introduction to how donkeys are viewed and worked in Zambia. Along the way we came across many other working donkeys and were grieved to see the sorry state of them, a lot of them having open wounds from being driven under ox yokes and in poor condition generally.
We felt impelled to do something but with other commitments it was an unattainable dream at the time. Fast forward to 2018 and a change in situation, with one of us now living 'on the ground' in Zambia, our vision of changing the lives of working donkeys started to look realistic. We had been introduced to Lynne, who had founded the pet rescue organisation Zambezi Animal Welfare Services in Livingstone, and who had also wanted to help donkeys for some time. In October of that year, sitting under a mango tree, we formed the Zambezi Working Donkey Project, which was registered as a Zambian not-for-profit organisation in February 2019, with our first outreach clinic taking place in May 2019 once the rains allowed travel.
Since then we have conducted many outreaches with our mobile clinic out in the villages, educated owners on a one to one basis at our farm base in town, and made multiple rescues of donkeys in need of urgent care. Within our first year of operation we reached 165 owners from 53 villages, providing treatment (tending wounds and giving worm and tick treatment) to 473 donkeys, providing harnesses for 104 carts and modifying them for use with donkeys. But we have only begun to scratch the surface…
In June 2020 Zambezi Working Donkey Project UK was registered as a charity with the Charities Commission for England and Wales, in order to raise awareness for and provide support to Zambezi Working Donkey project and other charitable projects concerning equine welfare in Zambia.