On weekends, between 30 and 40 traders - along with their donkeys and mules - travel up to 20km to the market in preparation for ‘Jaggery Monday’. They earn 300-500 Indian rupees (£3-£5) a day depending on the market value.
The jaggery season runs from October to March. The rest of the year equine owners work in the brick kiln, or transport food or construction goods by cart. It doesn't bring in a large income, most of the time they earn just enough to support themselves and their families.
Thirty-five-year old Kawar Pal trades at the jaggery market to support his wife and three children. Kawar has one mule, a mare aged 15. Two months ago she fell onto the wooden stake she was tied to causing a haematoma [a clot of blood]. Kawar didn't realise what had happened until a lump developed on her stomach. He spoke to the local health provider but as the health provider hadn’t been trained in equine welfare, he didn't know how to treat the wound. Instead he advised Kawar to see Brooke vet, Dr Verma, at the market.
Dr Verma operated on the mule and afterwards instructed Kawar to rest her for two weeks. Kawar was extremely grateful for what the Brooke did, but those two weeks were a difficult time for him because he couldn't support his family.
My mule earns the money I use to provide the food for my family and it also gets my children to school. I had to borrow money when she was sick so I don't know what I'd do without her. Brooke has given me back my livelihood.
Brooke community motivators make regular visits to local villages to work with equine owners so that accidents like this can be avoided. Kawar’s mule was badly injured because the large wooden stake used to tie her up was sharp and easy to trip on. On advice from the Brooke, many villages now use an old tyre, half buried in the ground, with a rope attached. This flexible solution is a lot safer and just as secure.