Alex Page talks about the work of Tanzania’s Meru Animal Welfare Organization, which aims to end the suffering, abuse and killing of animals, focusing on working donkeys and village dogs.
MAWO, a non-profit organisation, was founded by Johnson Lyimo in 2016, and its hands-on work with animals including rabies vaccination clinics, donkey vaccination and spay days and weekly dog dipping. But MAWO also contributes much of its time into educating the younger generations on animal welfare. We believe this is where the change will begin.
Johnson Lyimo stands proud in his community as an animal rights ‘activist’ but holds respect among others for the way he shows it. Education is key.
As of now MAWO is running hands-on animal welfare workshops in schools and communities; it is the tip of the iceberg but we are seeing a difference. We teach ‘stand proud and feel committed for your animals’. Take on responsibility.
Beside that we spin weekly and monthly, veterinary clinics (It’s Africa Time Anything Can Happen) in varied locations throughout Tanzania, one place being Lorborsoit. This was where I saw distress in an animals’ eyes I had never seen before. Not on a large scale, some were looked after but there were a few that were forgotten.
So the dog project was born. We raised enough to carry out the first spay day, spaying a village worth of dogs and the second has just been completed with another 65 bitches.
We have some wonderful supporters, the big one being The Donkey Sanctuary. Its donations have helped with the expansion of the donkey education classes, modern carts being used, and the growth of our volunteer base. This in turn means we have a supply of eager volunteers expanding their knowledge, helping us reach more animals.
There are huge goals we want to achieve; the vision any animal welfare supporter would want to see. Tiny steps it is we have to walk, then so be it.
A recent project was in the Maasai region of Lorborsoit focused on educating women on making correct welfare-friendly donkey harnesses using local, sustainable materials. Working together with the Maasai women, we were able to design harnesses using feed sacks, grass and blankets, enabling the women to make a small income from selling these and at the same time raising awareness within the community.
Ten women whom we now call “the donkey mammas of Lorbosoit” are achieving great things from the education MAWO provided them but this is only the tip of the iceberg. MAWO recently donated two donkey carts to the mammas to enable not only bigger loads to be transported, but the loads will be pulled by the donkeys instead of carrying them. MAWO’s aim is to provide each of the 10 donkey mammas with one of these carts.
Although education on correct harness use is vital to reduce injuries to donkeys during their working day, it is important to provide education on their daily needs. Access to fresh water, grazing and shelter from the blistering heat that is experienced here in Tanzania is simply not readily available, but with support and grants from Donkey Sanctuary UK we have great goals we want to achieve.
We have a long road ahead of us but we are making small steps to the end the suffering and abuse of the animals.
Donations are always welcome and the MAWO has a fundraising page. Volunteers are also always welcome in Tanzania. Get in touch with Alex Page on firstname.lastname@example.org for a fundraising pack or more information.
The below images show the old-style of donkey cart the MAWO is working to eliminate in favour of the new carts, shown at center during an education session, and in use at right.