A complicated story about donkeys and people

Many NGOs develop problematic ‘mission creep’ as they attempt to burrow down and address the causes – rather than just the symptoms – of the problems they were set up to tackle.

A case study from the work supported by the Donkey Sanctuary in Romania lays bare the dilemma; sticking to a clear mission can be equally troubling.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu lived in this hole in the ground

Liviu used to live under some planks in this hole in the ground in a village near Cernavoda, Romania.

Liviu owner of donkey Vasile
A highly intelligent man with fluent English, he suffers from mental health problems and has fallen into destitution.
He is amiable but hard to help. When his hole in the ground flooded, his sister (a teacher in the city) bought him a plot of land next to the hole and persuaded him to move there.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu owner of donkey Vasile

So he began living in this hovel, with thirteen dogs sharing comfort and companionship – though he is unable to look after them properly.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu owner of donkey Vasile

He also took on a donkey called Vasile, living in a shack beside his own.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu owner of donkey Vasile

After some sensitive negotiation The Donkey Sanctuary’s Romanian partner organisation Save the Dogs and Other Animals persuade him to give up the donkey and several of the dogs.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu owner of donkey VasileDonkey Sanctuary, Romania. Donkey Sanctuary, Romania.

The animals are taken back to the charity’s centre in Cernavoda.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Save the Dogs and Other Animals are all too aware that the sick donkey is now better housed and cared for than the sick man.

Author: Crispin Hughes

I am a London based photographer documenting social issues in the UK and internationally. I collaborate on video and art projects with Susi Arnott of Walking Pictures.