“Free the Donkeys!” Campaign to Ease the Suffering of Working Equids this Summer

Brooke USA has launched the 'Free the Donkeys' Campaign to raise money to build water troughs and shade for working equids in Ethiopia.

Overloaded donkeys in Ethiopia carrying sugar cane. Courtesy Brooke USA

Each day, millions of working horses, donkeys and mules suffer in the blistering heat of Ethiopia while carrying heavy loads over many miles to market. Bearing not only the extreme heat but also large loads, once they reach their destinations, they are usually tied in the sun, with their loads still on their backs, with no access to water or shade, where they will stand all day until they make the return trip home again at night.

Working equids in poverty-stricken areas often do not have access to water or shelters that provide protection from the blazing sun. As a result, not only are the animals suffering, but the tragic reality is that mortality is very high.

This summer, Brooke USA is launching “Free the Donkeys!,” a campaign with the goal of raising $98,000 to provide much-needed relief to the animals who are a lifeline to their owners in the major market areas of Bulle and Gedeb in Ethiopia.

One of the primary causes of mortality among working animals is colic due to dehydration, and Brooke USA knows that their fundraising appeal will help alleviate much of the suffering and death. With the funds raised from this campaign, Brooke will build shade shelters with individual stalls that can house up to 300 equids at one time. Shade shelters will provide working equines a break from the heat, flies and heavy packs. Each equid in the shade shelter will also be provided with food and water to re-fuel from a hard day’s labor before their long journeys home at the end of the market day.

An overloaded donkey in an Ethiopia grain market. Courtesy Brooke USA

Brooke USA’s campaign will result in relief for working equids while educating their owners on sustainable care and equine health and welfare improvements. Because the people of Ethiopia deeply depend on their equid partners, the maintenance of the shade shelters is also crucial to the well-being of the community and equids.

“Not only will the animals benefit from regular access to water and shelter, but their owners will be the ultimate beneficiaries because their working partners will be healthier,” Executive Director of Brooke USA, Emily Dulin said. “Brooke USA is proud to fund Brooke’s work with communities to train them in best practices to safeguard the livelihoods of their families.”

The success of shade shelters has already been seen with the construction of two Brooke shelters in Halaba, Ethiopia. With those shelters, the mortality rate quickly improved drastically, going down from 87 deaths to zero. The sustainable project not only soothes the donkeys, it involves the entire community. Local famers will gain more business producing hay to feed the donkeys and hundreds of local jobs will be created for building and maintaining the shelters.

Please visit for more information and to donate. “Free the Donkeys” t-shirts are also available to show support and raise awareness. The funds raised will go directly to Brooke for building shade shelters for the working equines of Ethiopia.

For more information on Free The Donkeys!, contact Cindy Rullman, Brooke USA, 859-296-0037,, or For more information on Brooke USA, please go to

All funds raised by Brooke USA this year will contribute to the overall goal of raising one million dollars in memory of the American horses and mules who served, suffered, and died in World War 1. Brooke USA’s Horse Heroes campaign seeks to raise one dollar in memory of each of the one million American equine war heroes during this centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.






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