One fine monday morning my brother asked me to drop him off somewhere for an errand. So we got into the car and away we went. On my way back home, I happened to pass by two little donkeys pulling a cart with all their might. One of them was limping and his hind legs appeared swollen. He was obviously in pain as he struggled to keep up with the other donkey.
And so I immediately made a U-turn, and signaled the donkey cart driver to stop. He pulled up ahead and waited for me, probably wondering what it was that I wanted to ask him. It was a quiet residential area in DHA. I got out of the car and asked him why one of his donkeys was limping. He said it was because he got hit by a car two days ago.
Why are you still making him work, when his legs are all swollen and bloody, he’s limping, and hasn’t even recovered from his ordeal?
I asked him.
What can I do? I am a poor man. I have to make him work no matter what. Otherwise, how will I earn a living?
Well, he’s limping and in pain. You have to let him rest till he recovers. Why don’t you use the other donkey for work till then?
I tried to reason with him.
By this time, the owner of the house that we were next to appeared, curious to know what the conversation was all about. As it turned out, the donkey cart owner was in the business of making kiaris, the little green space outside people’s houses. He had been working in the area for a number of years (40 he claimed) and the owner of this house knew him well. In fact, that morning he was working for him only. But he did not know that his man’s donkey was injured. He too agreed that an injured donkey should not be made to work.
I knew that if I left the donkey cart owner with advice to let his donkey rest, nothing would come of it. The poor animal would still have to limp along on the roads, day in and day out, with chances of his injury getting even worse. And so I made the fellow an offer he could not refuse.
Give this donkey to me, and I shall replace him with another one this coming Sunday.
He looked at me quite incredulously. I then explained to him that my friend Ayessha has horse stables in Shireen Jinnah Colony, and has space to keep a few donkeys. We shall give sanctuary to his injured animal at the stables, and get him another one from the market in Lyari the coming weekend.
What will I do with only one donkey for the rest of the week? How will I earn a living?
the donkey cart owner protested.
Listen, you will just have to wait a week. Till then, you’ll be fine with one donkey. The market is set up on Sunday. That’s six days from now. We will meet you at 11 o’clock sharp in front of this house.
I said to him.
He finally agreed.
I had called up Ayessha earlier and told her about the situation. She very kindly offered to take the donkey to her stables. In a little while, she too came over, and we made arrangements to transport the donkey to Shireen Jinnah. We hired a Suzuki pickup from around the corner, and asked the owner to accompany us to the stables. He was worried that his cart might get stolen if he were to leave it unattended on the road. Then the gentleman whose house we were in front of, offered to keep an eye on the cart while we were gone.
With everything sorted, we slowly made our way towards the stables at Shireen Jinnah Colony.
Nomi, our first rescued donkey was there to greet the new arrival. In fact, he got so excited that after chasing him around for a bit, he landed up on top of him! So we put Nomi inside one of the stables, and let the new donkey roam around in the outside area. The first thing he did was roll in the dirt for a little bit. Then the stables staff sprayed him with medicine for his wounds, and gave him some food and water. He seemed to know that this was to be his new home.
Next Sunday, we requested the Edhi Foundation to send someone to accompany us to the donkey market in Lyari. They would be able to negotiate a decent price. And so at 11am, we picked up the donkey cart owner and his little son from in front of the house where we met him, and went to the market. We got a nice healthy donkey for Rs. 8,000, thanks to donations from some generous people. The Edhi van then took him back to his house in Bilal Colony, Korangi. We instructed the donkey cart owner that we would come by to inspect his animal later, and would take him back if we did not find him in good condition.
Currently, all of our rescued animals are housed at Ayessha’s stables (Gallop), where they are being looked after by her experienced staff. We are working towards getting a place of our own soon, and plan to come up with a sustainable community based approach to animal welfare. If you would like to contribute to PAWS, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org