Earlier this month, 16 year old Ahamed from Alhalabia in BeniSuef Governorate in Giza, Egypt took his lovely donkey called el Dayar to a mobile clinic run by the Society for the Protection & Welfare for Donkeys & Mules in Egypt. When Ahamed arrived at the clinic, he recounted the donkey’s story to the team.
He told them that the donkey used to belong to his grandfather, who had depended on him for transportation and visiting his relations. The donkey had been born in the grandfather’s home, and an emotional bond had formed between them: they were friends. The grandfather loved his donkey very much, and although he became sick he still fully cared for el Dayar. Sadly, Ahamed’s grandfather died. El Dayar became depressed and lost weight, his behaviour changed, and because Ahamed’s grandmother was also sick, she was unable to provide the same care and good management as her husband had. She was worried that she might lose the donkey, whom she linked with the memory of her late husband. She knew how much the donkey had meant to her husband, so she asked Ahamed to have el Dayar checked at a private vet clinic.
The vet gave the donkey some medication, but unfortunately it did not respond. Ahamed became so worried about his grandmother that he brought el Dayar to the mobile clinic run by the Society for the Protection & Welfare for Donkeys & Mules in Egypt, hoping to find a solution for his concerns and for the suffering of both the donkey and his grandmother. SPWDME’s Veterinary Co-Ordinator, Dr Shabaan, and his team gave the donkey a full examination and found that he was suffering from facial wounds, eye problems, poor body condition, a long standing dental problem, a high heart rate indicating that the donkey was under severe stress, and hoof imbalance.
Dr Shabaan takes up the story:
"We asked Ahamed to help his grandmother in caring for the donkey, and explained to him that the donkey was so sad because he had lost his friend (Ahamed’s grandfather). We treated el Dayar’s physical symptoms by flushing the tear ducts, dressing the wound lesion, deworming, attending the dental problems by rasping and using the molar cutter, and correcting the hoof balance. We gave him a fly mask to avoid the irritation of flies, a course of analgesic and antibiotics, and explained the causes of different wounds and lesions and how to keep his donkey healthy. Finally we recommended buying a new donkey to be a companion.
Ahamed was so happy to find a solution for the donkey, and that this would reduce some of his grandmother’s worries. He was surprised at the time we spent to correct his donkey’s dental problems, and he promised us that he would ask his grandmother to pray for us.”
The team then continued attending to other donkeys and their owners, and Shabaan forgot about the boy and his grandfather’s donkey until a fortnight later he received a call from Ahamed’s grandmother.
He resumes the story:
“She was so happy, and thanked us so much, even describing us as angels for donkeys. She told me that the donkey has become more happy with his new friend, Ahamed, and that our working hard had inspired him to provide more care for el Dayar, who is responding well and resuming his normal appetite. Also, she is going to buy a new donkey to be a companion for el Dayar. I was proud with what we did for this donkey, and happy to hear that he has become happy and healthy.”
Reflecting on his work, Shabaan continues:
“I have a strong belief that behind each donkey we deal with, there is a hidden story. The people in the villages like to keep their donkeys for a long time and that helps in growing emotional bonds between them. We need to discover and help the owners to talk about these emotions; we need to work with these owners to know more about the socioeconomic value of donkeys in different communities. I feel that there is a link between Ahamed’s change of attitude towards his donkey and an improvement in his personal quality. This donkey and his story have inspired me to listen more to donkey users, and to find out more about our impact on donkeys and people.”
The SPWDME has been fully funded by The Donkey Sanctuary since 2003 and operates mobile teams and a dedicated education unit in the Giza area of Cairo, in peri-urban and rural communities in the Nile Delta, and in the brick kilns at El Saf. Working closely with donkey owners and users, together they find sustainable solutions for the specific welfare problems of the donkeys. In practice this may mean training in any combination of education, donkey behaviour, communication and handling, harnessing, hoof care, veterinary care, and/or other practical assistance.