Home for Christmas; a donkey for my wife
By Joe Anzuino - Posted on December 18th, 2012
Ethiopia is a fascinating country in many ways. The history of coffee drinking is even believed to have originated in Ethiopia and traditional Italian made lever pump coffee machines are found in every café. Thinking of home, Christmas and a smooth transition back I offered to buy my wife a similar type coffee machine. The handle to our Bialetti espresso maker melted and fell off some time ago and you now need oven gloves to take it from the stove. My wife’s response to this offer was in her typical fashion, just get the work done well, get home safely and use the money on something that was really needed.
Shortly before flying from Ethiopia I was with the team in a town called Quiha where they undertake weekly clinics and train vets students from the local university. A donkey in a desperate condition that had been badly mauled by a hyena, a common occurrence in the area, staggered to the clinic. The clinic was busy with lots of sick donkeys but this poor donkey was particularly ill. The damage was extensive with large parts of his hind leg and abdomen torn away. He was clearly in shock and in great pain. The team gave pain relief and then began the process of assessing the donkey and trying to make him comfortable, then explaining to the owner it was not going to be possible to mend this donkey. The owner’s eyes filled with tears. He said he could not have it euthanased; ‘What would people say? Maybe it will be OK?’ He would take it home and let God decide, clinging onto hope, as his family rely on this donkey for their everyday survival.
Our approach is to work with the community to help them understand why sometimes euthanasia is the only humane option, this takes time. However the thought of this donkey stumbling back home only to die in the following days with the injury was too much. I remembered my wife ‘words’ the night before. I talked with our vets about what could we do. There appeared few options open to us, then we considered whether a possible way forward would be for someone to discreetly buy the donkey as a one off gesture, and how would it be seen by the community. For example, would it have an adverse long term effect on the project by increasing the expectations of donkey owners? Our vets felt we could try this, as this was an exceptional case. Thankfully the owner agreed and I bought the donkey for my wife, in place of the coffee machine. The owner left the donkey with us and we humanely put the donkey out of its misery. The owner now had some money to help buy another donkey which he promised to protect from the hyenas at night thus preventing a similar incident.
Thinking more, my old percolator never has stopped making good coffee so why change it anyway and the Ethiopia team have sent me enough coffee to keep me going over the festive season - we had all we needed.
Incidents like this one remind you how lucky you are in life, having the luxury to worry about trivia such as a handle on a coffee machine, when much of the world still live in poverty with little protection against the suffering from disease and injury and the financial crisis this may be bring.