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Julia’s Weekly Column for the Middy!

Donkeys in the Desert

This Christmas Eve I would like to share a story with you about some donkeys from my holiday in Morocco, an Islamic country.

I was fascinated to see donkeys being ridden, carrying burdens or drawing carts. They were very obviously an important part of the local economy, and as such every one I saw was in good condition and well looked after. When we got to the last town, M’Hamid, where the road ends and the Sahara begins, the car park beside the weekly market had as many donkeys parked in it as trucks!

But what moved me was a small incident that occurred when we went off road into the Sahara, following in the tracks of the Marathon des Sables. We were in a four-wheel drive, chauffeured by a local Berber called Mohammed. The scenery was incredible, but obviously water was in short supply. Then in the distance we could see something that looked man-made with something too small to be camels standing nearby.

As we approached we discovered that they were three donkeys waiting patiently in the hot sun beside a deep man-made well and empty trough. They were wild animals, and looked like a family – a heavily pregnant jennet, what may have been her teenage daughter and a foal.

Without discussing it with us, Mohammed quietly parked our vehicle, and together with the driver from a car following us started to pull buckets of water up, filling the trough for the thirsty donkeys.

They would not allow us to approach them, but when we kept our distance, they drank at once. It touched my heart to know that these wild animals had learned that all they had to do to get water was to wait for a local to be driving past. It would seem that they could trust in the good nature of people like Mohammed to take a few minutes out of his day to see them safely watered.

At Christmas time, it is helpful to remember that people from lots of different backgrounds are good and kind. I wish everyone a Happy Christmas, and peace on earth to all of us, whatever our cultural backgrounds.

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