We have supported Egypt Equine Aid for some time now, having been active in pony rescue on our small farm in Devon. When our daughter decided to have an animal welfare gap year before university, she included several weeks volunteering with EEA. It's a free vet clinic near Giza, offering veterinary treatment and respite care for working equines in the farming and tourist areas around the Great Pyramids. I decided to tag along with her for the first two weeks to check out where our monthly donations were going.
Life in Egypt is very tough for people and animals, more so since the revolution in 2011. The economy is weak and tourism dramatically reduced due to political unrest.
EEA was founded in July 2014 by an Australian couple in response to their own experience volunteering for a local equine charity. The work of the small team falls into three main areas; in-patients in the clinic, capacity of about 30 at any one time; out-patients, meaning walk-in cases that can be treated and sent on their way; and education work in the Pyramid area for owners of the horses.
The clinic is a rented compound in Abu Dir, a peaceful oasis away from their harsh working lives in the hustle bustle of the area called Nazlet surrounding the Pyramids.
Horses and donkeys are used for pulling farmers' produce carts, for tourist carriages, and for tourist and owner rides on the desert. The issues arise because they are used for work from a very early age, often before they are even a year old, with little rest and poor feeding. They work on roads, busy with all kinds of motorised vehicles, in summer temperatures often over 40c, tied up on sidewalks for the night, poor food, and usually minimal veterinary care due to poverty and ignorance. Hence the need for EEA is great.
The facilities include stables, open sand maneges (pens) a basic treatment area/wash room, and visitor accommodation. To date more than 2500 equines have been treated in the clinic, more than 300 as in-patients, for a range of problems including colic, wounds, abcesses, respiratory ailments, joint infections, worms, prolapses and poor shoeing all usually compounded by poor nutrition and terrible tack. The goal is to return them to pain free working lives with educated owners. Very occasionally patients are transferred to new owners if their working lives are over. Four horses and a donkey recently started new lives as therapy equines for human patients at a hospital in Cairo. The long term goal for EEA is to have a proper equine hospital serving the area.
More to follow about the out patients and the Pyramid horses
Bea Hearne February 2017