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Exclusive Interview With The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust At Hickstead

In this video, we hear from the Director and Founder of the Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust, Heather Armstrong, to discuss their recent charity work and the story behind starting the charity.

What Challenges do Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust Face?

When your mission is to improve animal welfare, there are a lot of challenges to face and have been faced in the first 20 years of operation. Firstly, there were no vets, so there was no way to truly help the sick and injured animals. Therefore, task one was to build veterinary capacity, and with the help of volunteer vets, they have achieved this by training locals. The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust now has a whole team of animal welfare advocates. 

What Is The Story Behind The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust?

Heather and her sister grew up in The Gambia with very animal-orientated parents. After receiving a picture of a very emaciated horse called Lazarus, they decided they had to do something about the growing number of suffering horses & donkeys. The first port of call was to contact the big horse charities in the UK to see if they could help but were unable to immediately. This led to Heather and her sister creating their own charity.

How Does The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust Secure Funding And How Are The Donations Used?

Despite applying for grants when possible, The GHDT is heavily reliant on donations from its supporters, which include The All England Jumping Course, Hickstead.
All of the team and The GHDT are volunteers, so 100% of your donations go to helping care for the animals out in The Gambia that need it most. The donated tack & equipment are either sent to The Gambia or sold at Hickstead to raise money for the shipping of the retained goods.

What Are Your Future Goals?

After Covid, The GHDT were forced to adapt and take in a lot of dogs due to the two charities who took dogs in went bust. As someone who had been promoting good animal welfare for over 20 years, Heather didn't feel like she could turn them away. The aim is to keep growing and keep helping as many animals in The Gambia as possible.
In addition to this, now the GHDT has vets on-site in The Gambia, the charity wants to start working with student veterinarians from all around the world to give them valuable real-world experience. This will help towards their qualifications whilst taking pressure off of the existing volunteers.

What Is The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust's Biggest Success Story?

Heather immediately said Lazarus, the horse who prompted Heather and her sister into action. As he was in such bad condition, Heather's sister went to find someone who could put Lazarus to sleep. However, after it took four days to find someone who could, Lazarus's condition improved due to the care he received from Heather. Lazurus went on to live for a further 19 years with The GHDT family. 

How Can You Help The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust?

Heather was very keen to show you guys at home the work her team does before asking for your donations, so please visit their Facebook or Instagram page to see the great work they do. If you are happy to donate, please visit their website or go via Gift Aid as that adds an extra 25%!
Heather signs off the interview with a fantastic quote - "I'm convinced healing an animal is not just medicine, it's giving them that extra will to survive... That's why we have so many miracles."
**This article is an indirect quotation of Horsemart's interview with The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust to summarise the discussion and give our audience a better reading experience.**

Team Horsemart
Published on 06-07-2024