It is with great sadness that we share the news that Hassan Thabet has passed away. Hassan was an Animal Health Assistant with our Egyptian partners SPWDME (Society for the Protection and Welfare of Donkeys and Mules in Egypt).
Working for many years in the brick kilns of El Saf, south of Cairo, Hassan helped change the working conditions of the donkeys used in the production of bricks. By engaging with local communities, Hassan and his team from SPWDME have helped change the behaviour and attitude of brick-kiln owners and workers, as well as reduce wounds and injuries among the donkeys. This collaborative approach has brought about sustainable improvements to the lives of these hard-working donkeys. Hassan was often called ‘The Father’ by his colleagues as he was one of SPWDME’s longest-serving staff.
To mark his commitment to donkey welfare, Hassan was one of the first recipients of The Donkey Sanctuary’s Golden Bray Awards last month. Only days before he passed away, following a long illness that he had lived with while continuing to work in the brick kilns, he was presented with his award by Julia Smith, a member of the International Team.
The Golden Bray Awards are presented to Donkey Sanctuary staff who have demonstrated their commitment to donkey welfare through the Sanctuary’s three core values: Compassion, Collaboration and Creativity. They were presented for the first time in May. The International Department was thrilled that two of SPWDME’s hard-working staff – Hassan and his colleague Moharam Sayed Abd Allah Ewiss – jointly won the first award for Collaboration.
The nomination was put forward by Dr Howida El Sadary, Egypt’s Country Manager, on behalf of SPWDME’s senior management team. Dr Howida wrote:
“We nominate the Brick Kiln team of Moharam Sayed Abd Allah Ewiss and Hassan Thabet Moussa Hamoud for the Golden Bray Award for Collaboration, for the difference they are bringing about in people's behaviour toward the donkeys since they have been working in the brick kilns."
Moharam and Hassan work for SPWDME as Animal Health Assistants. SPWDME has worked in the brick kilns of El Saf since 2004 and we started in just 5 kilns. The donkeys were suffering from severe wounds, injuries and the people were treating them with cruelty and without empathy."
As a result of the Collaboration of the Brick Kiln team of Moharam and Hassan, the working conditions of the donkeys have improved and the behaviours, attitudes and beliefs of the stakeholders towards the donkeys have changed. Their compassion towards the donkeys has increased since Moharam and Hassan, using a community participation approach, have raised awareness of the value of their donkeys, demonstrating the importance of the donkeys in the working cycle. By the end of 2013 we reached 140 working kilns containing at least 1,500 donkeys. Nearly 90% of the kilns now have an external yard*."
Before he died, Hassan wrote a moving blog about Saving 14 donkeys in the Egyptian brick kilns.
On behalf of The Donkey Sanctuary, as well as all the donkeys he has helped over the years, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Hassan for all his hard work and to pass our condolences to the rest of his team and his family. Hassan was a unique character and it will be difficult to find someone to stand in his shoes. He will be greatly missed.
* Note: Before external yards were introduced, donkeys spent all their non-working time in dank, crowded stables which resulted in hoof problems and biting wounds.