By Frank van Steenbergen and Sukru Esin
Postcard from Mardin, Southeast Anatolia in the valley of martyrs. In the narrow streets of this beautiful and fascinating town, vehicles cannot move yet garbage has to be collected. Cleanliness is part of culture in Southeast Anatolia and so to remove waste, donkeys are deployed.
There not just deployed, they have rights almost like government servants. They are registered and are entitled to health care and retirement. They have adequate food and night shelter. They are engaged every other day given time to recuperate. It is dignity shown to those that work and the dignity of those that give this respect.
In a small town called Mardin, there exists a group of extraordinary workers who quietly carry out their daily tasks. However, these diligent individuals are not typical employees, they are donkeys. From 6 am to 11 am, and again from 2 pm to 6 pm, these hardworking donkeys dedicate themselves to cleaning the narrow streets, removing an astonishing 10 tons of garbage daily but their well-being is not overlooked by the municipality. Each evening, caretakers ensure that the donkeys receive the care and attention they deserve. During this time, according to the municipality sources, municipality’s care worker play classical music and local music for about 2 hours every day for donkeys.
After around eight years of service, these donkeys retire with an official ceremony. As a symbolic gesture, a red ribbon is cut by workers to mark this significant milestone. Instead of a traditional cake, watermelons are offered as a refreshing treat.
In their retirement, these exceptional donkeys find solace at an animal shelter, where they are provided with a comfortable and nurturing environment until their passing.
The story of these remarkable donkeys serves as a testimony to the power of dedication and hard work, regardless of the form it takes. They remind us that every worker, regardless of their species, deserves respect, appreciation, and a dignified retirement.