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SPANA’s Veterinary Programme Advisor Hannah Davies recently took her first trip to Mali to see SPANA’s work helping the donkeys on the rubbish dumps of Bamako. Read about her experience…

SPANA veterinary programme advisor Hannah Davies with brown donkey pulling a large cart in Bamako, Mali“What day is bin day?” I often hear myself thinking as I curse myself for forgetting and have to wait an extra week before the rubbish will be collected. “Don’t forget to separate your recycling…”

_0140188Well I won’t forget… not now. Not after my recent SPANA trip to Mali.

I knew that life as a SPANA vet would be filled with challenges, but nothing could have prepared me for the moment I first met the rubbish dump donkeys of Bamako in Mali.

Harrowing, heart wrenching and horrendous are just some of the words I would use to describe it. In the blazing sunshine these beautiful, honest, hardworking donkeys drag heavy carts full to the brim with rubbish. Stumbling and staggering through knee deep muck and rubbish they slowly make their way to the top of the rubbish dump, and once they have emptied the cart, they go back down to get another load. These little donkeys work tirelessly, day-in day-out, a truly miserable life.

getimageIt was clear to me that SPANA’s work here is so vital. The SPANA mobile veterinary clinic visits the rubbish dump regularly providing essential free veterinary care. As we pulled up a queue of donkeys and cart drivers soon congregated around us. The donkeys waited patiently in line whilst we carefully examined each one. We treated wounds, nails in the foot and eye injuries – some of the most common diseases encountered when working in this sort of an environment.

Although I was saddened by what I saw, I can see the huge difference that SPANA makes here and I am looking forward to re-visiting the rubbish dump donkeys again next year.