This week we officially launched our donkey clinics at the brick kilns in Lalitpur district. Dr Sudip Koirala, together with social workers Uma Limbu and Krishna Singh, coordinated a visit to Bungamati brick factory, which we will develop into a model brick kiln. Here over 500 workers live in makeshift sheds in an area as big as a large village. Most of them are Terai Dalits or come from other marginalised groups. They are the poorest of the poor: they don’t own land, often don’t have citizenship papers, are illiterate, and basically constitute the large chunk of forgotten people of Nepal.
Among them children, many children. There are babies who rummage through the unfired bricks. And there are children who look after their siblings and carry bricks as soon as they can walk. Our heart goes out to them. No chance to be educated, no opportunity to create a better life than that of their parents. Many are malnourished – the worst start a child can have in life.
Our heart also goes out to the working donkeys. At the Bungamati kiln there are 95 of them, plus a few dozen handlers, all kids from poor families in India or Terai. The handlers are far from home and work hard to bring home a few thousand rupees when they return home in May. One wonders who are worse off: the handlers or the donkeys, of whom 80% suffers from infections, injuries and/or malnutrition and dehydration. They are overloaded, beaten mercilessly and when injured left to fend for themselves.
Animal Nepal can no longer watch the suffering. Even though funding has not yet been secured we have launched an outreach programme for both brick kids and donkeys. Have a look at the documentary on www.animalnepal.org/adoptadonkey.html
All in all there are around 400 kids and 500 donkeys working their heart out in ten brick kilns in our district. We want the kids to be happy, healthy and educated. We want the donkeys to be healthy and well treated. Is this a dream that can’t come true? I don’t think so. Already, with the help of individual donations and the support of colleague organisations (SPCAN, KAT) and many volunteers we have provided basic health care to almost 500 donkeys. Some 50 children received a colourful t-shirt and will soon go to school. This week we have taken the next step to make our dream come true.