Good news from Egypt, where our teams are making great progress in improving conditions for donkeys working in many of the brick kilns near our base at Giza, near Cairo. As well as persuading the people in charge to use better harness and not overload the carts, they‘ve been explaining to the kiln owners that the donkeys – which live on the kiln sites – really need better stabling, and plenty of room, so that they don’t suffer the stress of overcrowding.
Our vet Moharam contacted me to pass on his delight that the owner of one particular kiln, which is called Al Gehad, had recently built an external yard for his donkeys – eight years after our team first began visiting the kiln and advising him to do so.
The kiln owner, Ibrahim, was amazed by the difference the outer yard had made. “We made a mistake not to build this yard from the beginning,” he admitted to Moharam. “The donkeys’ conditions have improved, their skin is better, there are no wounds or hoof abscesses. Like you said, everything really improved.”
The man in charge of looking after the donkeys, Ali, was very happy too, because not only were the donkeys healthier, his own job was also easier because, now that the donkeys could go outside, the indoor stable didn’t get so dirty and wet.
More and more kiln owners are improving their donkeys’ accommodation after being advised to do so by our staff. One owner, called Gamal, went one step further and created purpose-built stables and a spacious yard in a kiln he had built himself. Asked whether he’d made the changes “for his heart or for the money in his pocket”, he replied, “Both.” Laughing, he went on, ”without the pocket, there’s no money to look after the heart.”
He was right. Kiln owners are businesspeople, and - in a smaller way - so is anyone who uses working donkeys to help make a living. If we’re asking them to do something for their donkeys, it makes sense to emphasise the fact that healthy donkeys work more efficiently and are more reliable. When they see that their pockets are fuller as a result of this, their feelings of gratitude and appreciation towards their donkeys often increase, and they are both more able to pay for good donkey care, and more willing to do so.