Jasha: the Bethlehem donkey that 'cried blood'
Sick and injured donkeys are being helped when they need it most thanks to a project funded by The Donkey Sanctuary called ‘Donkeys in Bethlehem’. The project is run by one of our partners - the Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS) - who, with our support, are changing the lives of donkeys and their owners alike.
In a quiet neighbourhood in the village of Ash Shawara, 12 km south of Bethlehem, a local community facilitator awaits the arrival of local donkeys and mules to be checked by PWLS’ part-time vet Dr Yousef Mosalam.
On our recent visit to Palestine to monitor the Donkeys in Bethlehem project, we watched as a white donkey – her coat reflecting the afternoon Middle Eastern sun - was led down the slope by a young boy. A team of people, including local volunteers and students, were waiting to help.
When Jasha arrived to be seen, it was immediately clear that this was not just a donkey with the typical wounds associated with working. Jasha had been tied to a tree and suffered a serious gash to her face - dangerously close to her eye. It was a painful looking wound that gave the impression she was crying blood. She needed urgent help, and thanks to the generosity of The Donkey Sanctuary’s supporters, help was on hand.
Flies surrounded the wound as Dr Yousef swatted them away to take a closer look. While the vet - who has been working with PWLS for 10 years - reached for the equipment in his Donkey Sanctuary-funded first aid bag, our head of global programmes Alex Mayers rubbed Jasha’s neck and spoke to her calmly so that she could relax and begin to trust us.
Treating Jasha's wound
“You can see that the wound is big and likely to be infected. Not only will it be very painful, but the flies attracted to the wound makes it extremely irritating and upsetting for the donkey.” says Dr Yousef. “The owner of the donkey has not come today, I think the father is ashamed to come here because the wound is bad and he knows we will ask why this has happened, so he has sent his son. I will need to show the son how to keep the wound nice and clean to help it heal quicker.”
At least she made it to the workshop; without help the wound would have grown significantly worse and could have damaged her eyesight, leaving Jasha in need of even more urgent care.
Because of situations like this, PWLS is eager to welcome the introduction of a new animal welfare legislation, which will give them much more strength to prevent such suffering.
The future for donkeys like Jasha
During our visit, we met with Dr Kamel Abu Amreya, the Director of the Vet Department in Bethlehem, who told us the future is looking much brighter for these long-suffering animals.
He says: “In the past our grandfathers treated donkeys much better than we do now. The donkeys have been forgotten. There is a lot of bad treatment and we need to change the culture from the families and in schools - there must be more education.
“I am optimistic for the future though. PWLS is doing a lot of work to increase awareness and the new law will help us to encourage owners to abide by all aspects of animal welfare.”
For now though, and after several visits by the PWLS-trained local facilitator, Jasha’s wound is healing. Thanks to your help, she is not in pain or discomfort and her eyesight is no longer in danger of being lost. Your continued support will make a real difference to desperate donkeys in Bethlehem this Christmas.