Thehorse.com - Full Article
October 15 2012
Besides my penchant for big gray horses and veterinary science, I’ve developed a “thing” for other activities and causes along my life’s journey. One of them is for the people of Kenya, developed over aid- and missions-focused trips to Kenya in 2009 and 2011.
So imagine my excitement when I heard a story last week that combined equids and my bend toward humanitarian work in Kenya.
First, some background: Kenya’s equine industry is a far cry from that of the United States. Sure, when I’m visiting rural Kenya I see a lot of equids--maybe even as many as I see when I’m driving down the roads of Lexington, Ky. However, rather than manicured pastures studded with grazing million-dollar yearlings, in Kenya I see scores of working donkeys scattered by the road, tethered by pasterns (a common and accepted way of restraint there) and the occasional ratty-looking riding horse.
Due to donkeys’ utilitarian existence in many of the areas I have visited, I’ve never crossed paths with a horse-crazy person, an avid rider (though I saw some nice-looking show hunters in a wealthier part of Nairobi), or even an individual who’s focused on the welfare of these equids. The majority of Kenyans regard their donkeys as a crucial means to livelihood: transporting food (crops such as potatoes and corn), wood, and salable goods to market and, sometimes, even more importantly, life-sustaining water. Their attachment to their donkeys generally is not an emotional one.
Responsible care for donkeys is critical, otherwise many people aren’t able to provide basic needs for their family. Here’s where my passions collide: equids and helping Kenyans steeped in poverty. And here’s where Fiona Too Chelagat comes in. She is a spunky, ambitious 18-year-old who’s breaking barriers in her country—both in the equine welfare realm and in career expectations for women. This recent secondary-school graduate (Kenya’s equivalent to high school) is a farrier working in Kericho, which is in southwest Kenya, in the highlands above the Great Rift Valley...
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