Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Charity is Born

Equine welfare in Egypt is a contentious subject. Many living outside of Egypt will see pictures posted by one animal charity or the next, and remark with horror the condition that many of the horses are kept in. As a horse lover in Egypt, it is a brutal reality that never gets any easier. It was the continued abuse and neglect of equines here, along with the mass starvation crisis prompted by the January 25th Revolution, that saw the birth of the Continental Rescue and Rehab.

The journey began with Cleo, a wonderful little grey mare who was first rescued in October. It has taken 6 months, but Cleo is now fully rehabbed and I get the pleasure of beginning her again under saddle next week. Cleo has been adopted already in Hurghada, and can look forward to a quiet life with the Continental.


It was not long after Cleo was rescued that Claire Dunkerley and Susan Richards-Benson were drawing attention from other animal activists. In November, the Continental rescued three additional horses, Cinderella, Ali Baba, and Rocky.

Cinderella, photo taken 28th March
Cinderella had been at one of the feed days organized by a Cairo based charity, ESMA, aiming to at least provide little feed for the horses in great need. At the feed day, Cindy went down to the ground from weakness. Claire and I did not actually realise that the mare we rescued was in fact the same horse until a few weeks later. Cindy was spotted being dragged behind a cart, grossly emaciated and with a saddle sore wound stretching half way down her back. There was no question she was in need of immediate help.

Next up was Ali Baba, essentially a walking skeleton. Ali Baba was still being worked. Ali Baba's rags to riches story was made possible by a donation from a couple from Germany who had met Cleo, and asked that if we were able to rescue another horse, to name him Ali Baba and they would cover the cost of purchase. He was so malnourished that 40 percent of his body was missing hair, he was listless, and had problems moving due to the sheer starvation.

Ali Baba on the 17th of February

Rounding out the trio was Rocky, who had also been at the same feed day as Cindy. His story is unique; grossly neglected, he would reach out to bite anyone that came close to him as a means of protecting himself. Rocky is covered in old scars from being branded, beaten, and whipped. He had an abscess in his hoof, that rather than treat his old owner had covered with a metal plate. It caused a massive infection in his leg, and for the better part of two months, he was rendered almost completely lame with poultice after poultice applied to his food to pull the infection out.

Rocky on the 13th of March

With the Continental's herd growing, Claire and I had a talk about where the future would take us. We wanted to ensure that we had the legitimacy that would continue allowing people to support us, and provide the transparency so crucial to the success of any charity. With that, the decision to register as a charity was born.

In the months of bureaucracy that the charity registration took, the Continental acquired two new rescues. First was Chili, rescued in the end of December, who has become the poster boy of the Continental.

Chili's story gripped many people's hearts. He came to us with a leg so swollen, and completely unable to bear any weight on it, not to mention he was covered in wounds and riddled with infection. For the first week, Claire and I debated back and forth on whether the most humane thing to do was to put this little horse to sleep, but his will to live was so strong he answered the question for us himself. Chili's first month with the Continental was very touch and go, and the fans on the page watched with bated breath for each new Chili update. The cost of Chili was covered by generous donations, and he continues to receive sponsorship on a monthly basis.

Chili on the 6th of April

To show you the dramatic difference, this is Chili
2 weeks after his rescue, on the 6th of January

We now know that Chili has an old break in his leg, which has caused a massive infection in the joints of his leg. He has been permanently retired, and his job from now on out will be to teach people about the will to live that horses possess, and the quiet nature that trumps all despite his tremendous suffering.

Rounding out the current herd was Sheba. We were asked to rescue Sheba after she was seen at another feed day. Her eye socket had been broken due to blunt force trauma to her head = translation, she was beaten upside the head. She also had a massive wound alongside her back and was underweight. Sheba, like Rocky, has taken a long time to learn to trust people again. Understandably, she would get very defensive around people and would often reach out to bite. Day by day she is learning to trust again and relax into life with the Continental. Sheba's adopted mum is based in the UK, but we hope will come to see us soon!

Sheba on the 6th of April

As of the 29th of March, Claire Dunkerley, Mohamed Ramadan, and Susan Richards-Benson are the very proud co-founders of charity number 310 in Hurghada, Continental Rescue and Rehab as an officiated and registered charity in Egypt. Plans for the future are well underway, and I hope you will join me in tracking our development as we undertake this new road towards improving equine welfare in Egypt.

There is never any rest for the wicked, and already the Continental has been called on again to help with another horse in a dire situation. I will update here in the next few days about that! To everyone that has watched and supported our work, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Our work wouldn't be possible without you. For more information on our rescues or to see the pictures from their first arrival and their progression with us, please like and follow the Continental Rescue and Rehab on facebook. 

1 comment:

  1. Susan, as foremost an animal lover I applaud what you are doing to improve the lives of these wonderful and beautiful animals. I am also a horse owner and a friend of your mother and father. They have both visited my farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I read the introduction to your book about Rocky and have ordered it on Kindle. I am trying to work out how to like it on Facebook. I lived in the Middle East for a long time including Libya, Bahrain and Dubai and almost Egypt but decided not to take the job. Enough about me, this is all about the horses. Thank you.