Every year, we hold 5 – 7 education workshops each for equines handlers and equine owners. Additionally, we hold biannual workshops for factory owners. During the off season (May-December), we run an outreach programme in Nepalgunj, where the equines from the brick factories in Lalitpur are stationed for six months of the year. The main objectives of the workshops are to hold discussions about animal welfare and to provide general orientation on effective management of working equines. Using the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach, we identify problems of specific stakeholders that affect the working equines as well as their root causes. We then work with the stakeholders to come up with solutions and to initiate preventive measures.
Through PRA, we realized that a significant amount of “bad practices” of equine owners towards their animals was a reflection of their socio-economic situation and their lack of knowledge. Thus, we directed our education workshops and devised trainings to expand their knowledge and build their capacity in the needed areas. Similar approach was also taken for equine handlers. For instance, when we realized that one of the main reasons behind equine abuse by young handlers was due to the stressful living environment and frustrating working conditions, we decided to conduct our workshops in a manner that would be most effective in educating them while alleviating their stress. We utilized various infotainment mediums such as cartoons, movies, drawings and games to educate them. We also provided them with footballs, chess and ludo to play with during their leisure hours, essentially creating a medium to reduce their frustration and stress. We also lobby with factory owners during our bi annual workshops to improve the working conditions of their employees.
We strongly believe that building empathy among stakeholders towards their equines is a crucial step in changing the status quo. For this, we conduct various activities during our educational workshops. For example, in one activity, we blindfold the owners and handlers and instruct them to walk according to guidance provided by a trainer. This exercise enables equine owners and handlers to understand how difficult it is for blind equines to walk while carrying heavy loads.
As an extra incentive, we also provide 1st, 2nd 3rd prizes for best equine owners and handlers of brick kilns in our workshops at the end of every season. Prizes consist of practical items for daily life which include water filters, pressure cookers and electric lights as well as essential items for equines such as medicine and feed. In addition to this, all the participants are also presented with a memento.
Through Community Education, we have reached more than 500 equine owners and handlers since 2012.
While conducting health clinics, unofficial wound management training is provided to the relevant parties. However, we also conduct official wound management trainings utilizing participatory approaches. While teaching equine owners and handlers about wound cleaning and management, we encourage them to acknowledge the cause of wounds themselves and then discuss preventive practices. We also provide additional trainings to prevent wounds such as harness design trainings. Till date, we have conducted over 20 official wound management trainings.
Our Vets and Para-vets have been officially trained by Donkey Sanctuary India to design harnesses for equines used in the brick factories. This knowledge is passed on to equine owners who can use this skill for the benefit of their equines as well as for entrepreneurial purposes. So far, we have successfully conducted 6 harness design trainings. During our trainings in 2016,100 % of the participants reached a level of autonomy in developing harnesses.
Hoof cleaning and trimming is essential for up-keep of equines and we believe that every owner and caretaker should learn this skill. We have conducted more than 50 hands-on sessions in order to build the capacity of stakeholders and make them self-reliant at hoof cleaning.
In 2014, AN along with SAATHI introduced the wives of equine owners to microfinance and empowered them to form a group that is active to this day. In September 2016, we conducted microfinance training among equine owners and assisted them to register their group.