We are pleased to publish a blog by Hassam Thabet, an Animal Health Assistant with our Egyptian partners SPWDME. Sadly, Hassan passed away last month. He had been working on this blog prior to his death and it is with both sadness and pride that we include it here. You can read more about Hassan’s life and work in our blog ‘Farewell to Hassan Thabet’.
My name is Hassan Thabet I have been working as an Animal Health Assistant for The Society for the Protection and Welfare of Donkeys and Mules in Egypt (SPWDME) since 2002. Before I joined SPWDME I was working for the Government. It was a very simple job but I did not like it. I saw that I could do more so I was happy when I joined SPWDME and began to work with the donkeys.
I know how important I am for the donkeys and for the poor people, and I am proud about seeing the changes that occur in people's lives by helping their donkeys. Every day I see the appreciation and gratitude in the eyes of people and my families and I am so happy about that. It pushes me to work more to relieve the suffering of the donkeys and the best times in my life are when I talk about the donkeys with my family and 12-year-old son, Mohamed. Every day I have to answer Mohamed’s questions – how many donkeys have I helped today and how did I help them? Mohamed considers me to be like a fireman or paramedic for donkeys. I have to have stories for my son and I really enjoy telling him about my work. It’s built a very strong bond between us. My son even talks proudly with his friends and relatives about my stories, and today I would like to share with you the last story I told my son.
One Saturday (which is my day off) I received a phone call from Khalid, the owner of El Adel brick kiln. The call was very early and woke me up. Khaled was stuttering as he told me he had a donkey lying down and suffering from colic. I quickly got ready and, with my colleague Moharam, went to the kiln. I phoned Dr Shaaban, our vet, to let him know too, but unfortunately when we arrived at the kiln we found the donkey had died. Straight away we examined the kiln’s 14 other donkeys, as well as their food, water and stable. We had to work quickly to save the rest of the donkeys because after talking through the situation with Dr Shaaban, we suspected that it was a case of food poisoning.
We ordered the owner to buy liquid for fluid therapy, which he got very quickly, and we gave the rest of the donkeys fluids, anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics. We discovered that the food was dirty and spoiled and contain insects so we asked Khalid to change the food and clean the stable. He did this very quickly and thanked us – he was impressed with our fast response and hard work. Of course, we were very sad because we were not able to save the first donkey, but at the same time we were so happy to have saved the other 14.
I returned home very tired but also happy because I had a story to tell my son. He was waiting for me and asked the usual question about my stories for the day. Mohamed was so happy when I told him and appreciated what we had done to save the donkeys in the brick kiln. We followed up the case and the 14 donkeys are now better and have returned to work.
Conclusions I have drawn:
- Quick response for emergency cases, honesty and hard work are very important elements in the brick kilns because they help us to build trust between us and different stakeholders. This is very important for our work and passing on our welfare messages because the situation in the brick kilns is complex and harsh for both people and donkeys.
- The donkeys are the heroes of my stories. I am grateful to the donkeys for helping me see my son happy and proud of his father.
- Keep the focus on the donkeys and keep asking yourself these questions: how you can help the donkey at this moment (when you see the donkey) and how can you help the donkey in the future (after leaving him)? It’s also important to ask what happened to the donkey in the past.
- Working with donkeys has an impact not only on the donkeys and poor people's lives but also on ourselves, too, and our perceptions.