Giving Egypt's Animals a Future
Conor Sheils speaks to people behind The Egypt Horse Project to find out more about their tireless efforts in saving abused animals, and what YOU can do to help.
Egypt is renowned globally for a less than promising record when it comes to animal rights. Every day we see animals battered and bruised on Cairo's streets with some left for dead, surplus to requirements for their heartless owners. Statistics show that thousands of animals are abandoned each year with the problem worsening due to the country's present harsh economic climate. And for those kept alive, many are left emaciated, brutally beaten and facing a long agonising life of misery.
Horses play an important part in Egypt’s tourism whether horse riding at the Pyramids or a grueling cab ride around parts of the city. And the country's one million working donkeys after often forced to carry crippling loads to satisfy to economic needs of their masters. Both are often badly beaten and risk death daily on Cairo's congested roads.
However one organisation is hoping to turn the tide of sadness facing the country's unloved horse and donkeys. The Egypt Horse Project is the country's first rescue centre specifically designed to care for injured horses and donkeys who've been abandoned or ill-treated by their owners. The charity currently hosts more than 20 rescue animals. The project was founded by Ashleigh Lotherington, a 23-year-old Australian who moved to Egypt for work purposes and was horrified at what she saw on the streets of Cairo. The scheme is currently being managed by Salwa Abdoh - a caring activist with passion for animal rights.
Between them, the pair work tirelessly alongside their fellow team members to care for up to 30 ailing animals around the clock from a small centre near Haram, Giza. Abdoh is emotive when she speaks about the dire cases she is faced with every day: "Egypt is a terrible place for animals, people just don't care here. The culture doesn't allow for a kindness to animals. I've seen horrendous cases during my time In one instance I was driving along and saw a man driving a donkey and cart. The animal had become trapped in a pothole but its owner didn't realise and began beating the donkey furiously with his shoe. He hit him in the face, in the eye - the animal was in agony - but the man wouldn't stop until I got out of my car. I took the animal to our shelter that very day and now we have nursed it back to health and "Tiny" is doing really well."
However this story is just one example of the good work carried out by the four person team based at a small centre in Giza. Abdoh continues: "We have many successful stories. Recently we rescued a small donkey called Ramsis - a farmer called us because the animal had a problem with her leg and he said she was of no use to him. So we took him and nursed him back to health - one year later, he is so happy and healthy. In another case we found a donkey left for dead in the street because she was sick and no longer good for work. A member of the public called us and we came and rescued the animal who was just days away from death. Thankfully we got there just in time."
But the future isn't bright for the struggling organisation, which relies entirely on private donations. The Horse Project looks set up take on up to 200 new cases this year is struggling to cope with demand. The organisation may even be forced to shut their doors unless they receive donations enabling the group to move the operation to a larger premises. "Now we are taking in new animals every week and we desperately need to find a new space in order to keep the centre running. We don't receive any government funding and we have paid for much of the work from our own pockets. Ashleigh is currently in Australia trying to raise money to support the centre but as it stands we really don't have enough. The future is very uncertain for us and we don't know where to turn."
For more information on the project or to donate to the please visit their Facebook page here.
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