Egypt’s brick kiln donkeys need our help

Why is Safe Haven expanding its work into Egypt?

There are approximately 1,000 brick kilns in Egypt, manufacturing building materials to satisfy the country’s housing boom. Around 600 of the kilns are based in the El Saf region, 100 km south of Cairo. 

The kilns rely on donkeys as haulage. Every day, the animals toil in intense desert heat, dragging carts loaded with unfired bricks to the kilns. The animals are worked very hard. The whole operation must move at a pace because the uncooked bricks dry out and crack in the heat, so need to be fired as quickly as possible.

The donkeys at the El Saf brick kilns are suffering. Harness injuries, wounds from beatings, overgrown and deformed hooves, and parasitic diseases spread by flies have left many in unimaginable pain.

We were approached by Dr Shaaban, a highly experienced vet based in Egypt, who sought our support as no other organisation was operating in this group of kilns to help the donkeys. Working with a trusted local community development organisation, El Gesr (The Bridge) Foundation, we’ve recently run a pilot project to send a mobile veterinary clinic into El Saf, concentrating on an area of around 120 to 180 kilns. It consists of Dr Shaaban, Moharram, a farrier and harness specialist who was himself a brick kiln owner, and Hamed, also a farrier.

How will Safe Haven help donkeys in the brick kilns?

We plan to send the team in six days a week – if we can raise the vital funds we need. They will work to treat wounds and infections, trim overgrown hooves that cause agonising lameness, and rasp sharp tooth burrs that can create excruciating mouth ulcers and leave already malnourished donkeys without an appetite.

Alongside the treatment, the team will train kiln owners on how best to look after their animals – ensuring more nourishing food, adequate rest and the correct use of harnesses and saddles to avoid wounds. In this way, we will bring long-term benefits because with the right care, donkeys need not suffer. 

The team will focus on around 120 kilns, but given that other owners have already approached them for support, that number is likely to grow fast. With 3,000 donkeys in the area requiring treatment, it’s vital the team has everything it needs. 

Will you support our mobile veterinary team at the brick kilns?

We urgently need to raise £60,000 to fund the first year of the mobile veterinary clinic, ensuring the team has the medicine and equipment necessary to treat sick and injured donkeys at the El Saf brick kilns. 

With your support, we can provide instant pain relief for these animals.

£20 could provide a donkey in the brick kilns with vital veterinary care.

£192 could fund the mobile veterinary team for a day, to provide treatment to donkeys in the brick kilns.

Making a huge impact – one animal at a time

In the last few weeks, a donkey was brought to the team with an infected and blocked eye, as well as wounds from a poorly fitted neck collar and harness. Dr Shaaban got straight to work, flushing the eye with saline and an anti-parasitic, followed by the fitting of a fly mask to protect the area from insects. The team then cleaned all the animal’s wounds with antiseptic, and applied a soothing layer of iodine and zinc ointment. 

This one example shows you just how much difference your gift could make – to the lives of so many animals. Simple procedures, which take a matter of minutes, can bring instant relief from pain and discomfort. With your help, we can fund the team and the equipment they desperately need, and help them carry out this vital work in the brick kilns.

The donkeys at the brick kilns are suffering but with your support we can ease their pain and give them a better future.

If we are lucky enough to raise more than £60,000 to launch our Egypt project we will use the funds to support other working donkeys in the West Bank and our Sanctuary in Israel.

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