The Covid-19 pandemic has provoked universal fear, anxiety and angst while we stare down the barrel of possible outcomes that feel foreign and unknown.
Yet, despite our unfamiliar circumstances, we’re also witnessing unprecedented acts of valor and bravery–the very best of humanity, extraordinary altruism, unparalleled compassion, and an unintended, but collective learning opportunity which will serve us in ways yet to be seen. What makes this experience so vastly different from any other major historical event of its kind is our international connectivity,impact and unity. More than ever, we are so acutely aware that we are a global society, one that depends on collective health, cooperation and non-partisan action.
While many of us are struggling with social distancing, economic uncertainty and the discomfort of our disrupted routines, we have a responsibility to recognize both privilege and disparity. Undoubtedly, this virus will have a disproportionate impact on the world’s most impoverished communities, impairing the already strained workload on working animals and the families who depend upon them for survival.
The luxury of self-isolation, shelter-in-place, and a disrupted labor market is not an option in regions that already experience extreme hardship. With caution, those of us in “developed economies” are able to visit a mostly stocked grocery store where we purchase and enjoy products that started their journey on the back of a horse, mule or donkey. The working equids and people who are responsible for both international agricultural distribution and local subsistence agriculture will continue to take animals, textiles and goods to crowded markets with no alternatives. They will still have to visit a community well to haul clean water back to their families and execute daily chores. Consider the sudden loss of tourism where horses are the only means to an income. Further, most communities living in abject poverty lack the technology and infrastructure to combat the virus including access to testing, sterile hospitals and supplies, clean water, and trained medical professionals. While little is known about the extent and far-reaching implication of Covid-19, we do know this: More people will ultimately die of starvation than die of the virus itself.
With 90% of the world relying on over 100 million working equids for economic survival, the need for EI’s services will be greater than ever before. Although our programs are currently on hold while we prioritize the safety of our volunteers and the vulnerable communities in which we work, the Equitarian team is eager to return to our international friends, colleagues, students, and partners, prepared for a new set of challenges associated with the global pandemic and its unmeasurable effect on those living in poverty. Rest assured, we will be on the frontlines of this effort, working alongside our community partners, providing care and services to help stabilize and rebuild through working animal welfare and community aid.
During this unprecedented time, we will continue our efforts to plan programming and share resources in the regions we work. We ask that our dedicated network of supporters and engaged volunteers join us in making a difference where the world needs it most. Please consider a contribution to the Equitarian Initiative so we can ensure timely and safe intervention of our vital services. The most common phrase of this crisis bears repeating: We are all in this together.
With heartfelt gratitude,
UPDATE June 2020:
The Equitarian Initiative prioritizes the health and safety of our volunteers and the vulnerable communities we serve. All 2020 EI programs are cancelled due to Covid-19.