We arrived in Cairo this year with a clear mandate to make serious progress with our first Objects: -
To legally incorporate The Giza Foundation in Cairo, ( a prerequisite for our full programme )
To side-step the new business registration requirements for fixed premises, through the registration of a Mobile Vetinary Ambulance; and thanks to the generosity of a few select patrons we had built sufficient funds we hoped to take these initial steps.
We arrived very late in the evening and as is often the case we were joined within the hour on our apartment balcony for the first of many meetings with our Cairo Lawyer, his colleague/translator; two of the local Vetinerary Doctors involved; and our trusted host patron. Business meetings take place often out of the office and late. They became an almost daily occurrence following daytime visits and fact finding journeys.
We arranged the first meeting from the UK. It was so important to make sure all parties were working together and to confirm what changes there had been since our last visit. We made our position clear and confirmed our readiness.
As promised, everyone had been doing an immense amount of homework for us. New obstacles were explained.
We were horrified to learn that the free Vetinerary clinics organised by ESAF (Egyptian Society of Animal Friends) in the village of Nazlet el Samaan had stopped. We knew these had been a lifeline to animals in the village. Owners exist in poverty with nothing but their often overworked animals for income, plying them to tourists who are blissfully unaware of the injuries and sores beneath the saddles they sit on. The same is true for all other classes of animals with responsible owners. Their misery could at least be eased by a visit to the free clinics. We renewed our connection with a visit to ESERA to speak again with the Chairman of ESAF Ahmed el Sherbini. The reason for disappearance of the village free animal clinics became clear.
We had been under the impression that these clinics were being provided by The Brook, (A very wealthy international Horse and Donkey welfare charity.) We discovered this was partly true. The full situation was explained to us thus:
Apparently, donations from the Brooke enabled the ESFA to set up the clinics. Vetinerary doctors and staff through ESFA donated their time free to provide the service. the ESFA is a much smaller organisation but are completely hands-on with their task, using their meager resources to the full.
However when the People's Revolution happened, the funds from The Brooke dried up. They would no longer support the ESFA free animal clinics. At ESFA it was explained to us with great passion and some anger that they had begged for their assistance to continue. We were told that The Brooke refused. We were told also it was known that The Brooke had new vetinerary ambulances in Cairo and they were begged for some use of these. Again the answer was No. We were shown however advertisements for continuing prestigious Brooke fund raising events. We were left with no doubt of the negative feelings towards the conduct of The Brooke in these matters.
They asked us if we could help any way at all to at least revive the desperately needed free clinics. We were particularly sad and angry ourselves because since incorporating the Giza Foundation in the UK... and until such time as we developed it much more, we had been signalling to everyone that donations could also go directly to The Brooke. With hindsight we would have asked for interim donations to go straight to the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends!
So here was a new important consideration for us to think about!
We received a second shock at our initial legal meeting. We had been proceeding on the basis that if we registered as a mobile operation with new vetinerary ambulance, we would avoid the expensive need to acquire working premises right away. Now we were told this would not be possible. The registration would indeed require attached working premises. They would preferably be premises however humble that had the potential for development to realise our objects. We learned that the authorities needed to validate the viability of any choice, and accept this would likely be a permanent business base for our proposed operations.
After catching our breath, we asked the team to return to us quickly with an amended business plan which would incorporate the basic costs involving premises. Instead of just a new vetinerary ambulance, we were now faced with the prospect of setting up a modest vetinerary hospital. We thought this would require the rental or purchase of village premises. Several locations were discussed and a few days of rapid fact-finding ensued to gather a proposal.
At least we would then be able to review the potential new costs involved for an ideal result.
The days marched on and we were at another late summit meeting.
Preliminary costs were established and would have to include assorted contingencies of £15K if a brand new Vetinerary ambulance: another 3.5K for documentation and registration processes: 2.5 to 5.5K for Ultrasound Equipment depending on condition: 1.5K for initial Surgical equipment: 2K for the fitting out of premises, and these would be before considering the purchase or rental of premises. We were crestfallen because we thought we would have been able to make real progress and now we would have to rethink our strategy.
With the help of our friends we tapped into our contacts with the press, prestigious clubs in the area and some administration officials for more advice. Two messages came back to us.
Since the collapse of tourism it was clear the lack of cash in the local economy has led to even fewer services; and despite the absolutely vital business role played by the use of animals, ironically it was the animals at the bottom of the chain who were suffering more. Corruption has been forced into even these areas. In one example we heard of saline being injected as an illegally substitute for the proper medicine. The cost of medicines generally for animals are extortionate because expensive generic brands are forced down the chain for maximum profit, where much cheaper equivalents could be made available.
From this situation, confidence has been falling for even the most humble of Vetinerary care providers.
We were told on at least three occasions that Egyptians would only have complete trust in a foreign sponsored and managed Vetinerary hospital - to be free of corruption! One of the legal assistants had visited a particular charitable support institution in Cairo and had more news. We were told unequivocally that if we could instigate a new foreigner managed Vetinary hospital which was able to serve the village, its local community, and also be open to paying clients from other parts of Cairo - then we would receive dynamic support from wealthy Egyptian supporters. But, initially we would have to instigate the operation. The thought also did not escape us that such a place would be a perfect base to pursue all other objects of the Foundation. New visitors here can explore all of our activities from the front index page of The Giza Foundation website.
We were at low ebb and then we heard about the work of a Canadian lady working just outside Cairo near Abusir.
She has a small farm where she looks after animals in her area and keeps a Noah's Ark of recovering animals herself.
She wanted to expand her work and from donations she received, had saved enough to begin arranging weekly free clinics at her farm for animal owners wider afield. She had arranged with ESAF for them to come and help her begin administering the clinics. Our friends at ESAF invited us to help them with the first clinic.
Maryanne Stroud at her Al Sorat Farm is a remarkable woman.
We had difficulty finding the place initially even though it is not far from Cairo. But what a greeting awaited us. Within the walls of her farm plot there are stables filled with mixed animals glowing with friendliness and health. We were taken on a tour. In one compound there was an old Bull next to goats, horses, donkeys and birds. Maryanne led us in a personal introduction to almost every animal. They all responded freely like old house pets. Elsewhere other recovering animals roamed free in a paddock, and in the house compound there must have been fifteen dogs of various breed and size excitedly milling around. The one predominating feeling was of friendly trust and happiness amongst them all.
We helped with the clinic, treating especially cows and donkeys, while Maryanne took the opportunity to teach our crew of volunteer Vetinaries some tricks of the trade to use substitute cheaper medications in place of the expensive brands they were used to. They were all thankful to learn how the same outcome could be achieved at less cost.
We spoke at length with Maryanne about her farm and how she had returned to Egypt from America to look after her beloved horses initially but it had snowballed from there. Maryanne's departed husband had been an important Egyptian figure in the operation to build deep water docks for commercial shipping. Now she uses whatever funds she can find, and serves the local and wider community with animal welfare and farrier classes. She offered at any time in the future to help us in our ventures in whatever capacity she was able.
We came away from the day with much to think about. We speculated how wonderful it would be to be able provide such a place which could also serve the animals of the Plateau and Nazlet village. As anyone will know from our writings throughout our sites, the unusual always follows us, and another mind blowing experience was waiting to happen.
Someone very close to us in Cairo, coincidentally asked that evening to have a meeting with us. We were absolutely dumbstruck with what he had to say. It was that as part of a family deal he was about to come into the ownership of a considerable plot of land in a desirable village setting just outside of Cairo. He had no immediate plans for the land but as a result of his deep sympathies for the animals of Cairo and in our aims, he wanted to make us an offer.
He would be prepared to make a legal agreement for us to have an adequate part of his land-holding for the use of building a house with Vetinerary hospital. He already knew we had been exploring options for somewhere in Cairo. He knew of the prohibitive costs of Cairo lettings and said that even if we paid nothing for his land, he would benefit by the prestige and value of hosting such an establishment. However we would have to parcel the land, plus build the house and hospital. We saw that this still did not address the problem of providing Vetinerary services in Nazlet but he had an answer. It was simple. Become established at the new location and then begin to provide our own clinics in the village. We remembered conversations with ESFA. They had already said that if we were in the position of managing a new Vetinerary service, we would not have to find the initial costs for much of the Surgical, medical and transport elements. ESFA would work in cooperation with us to make regular clinics in Nazlet a success. We could run them as part of our provision from our new hospital. We were already committed to joining with ESFA in their schools education programme and to provide future seminar presentations.
The solution had presented itself to us! We were overjoyed at the prospect. We readily agreed to a group visit out to the site. Open land spread before us, bounded by palms and the other vegetation of the surrounding village, but we were imagining it as a farm home with a working animal hospital. We met and spoke with surrounding villagers who were all overjoyed at the prospect of such a place in their neighbourhood. We knew they would work with us and support what we were doing when the time came.
With what was left of our visit we scurried around investigating the potential costs involved. There were many other considerations such as the fact that there would have to be a new water well dug at the site for example. Finally we had a target figure to work towards.
We had arrived with access to use the funds already saved with the generous help of a few lovely patrons in the last year, but we had held out from committing any substantial part of these when the conditions changed. Now we knew we could commit sufficient cash to begin the weary legal processes before we returned again. We decided also it was impossible for us to leave without being generous to the work of ESFA and Maryanne(We hope you will also visit their sites and share generosity)
We returned home full of hope.
In the time since, we have again been bogged down by the mundane work which puts bread on our own table, but we decided to make an effort ourselves in the background to gain more funding support. Our efforts continue but as we approach the end of 2012 and ready to enter a brave bew phase in 2013 we invite you, the wonderful public to complete this dream. Realistically we have had to admit we are going to be unable to generate the target amount on our own. We need to raise another £25K to pay for the whole thing. That means, the secured land, the perimeter walling, the improved access roadway and water well, and the house with Vetinerary Hospital, the mobile clinic equipment etc.. We already know the house will enable caretaking of the Hospital when we are unable to be there, and we also have a very trusted and skilled Manager waiting to become part of a successful operation.
As our report closes we hope you have followed with it to the end and that you may find it in your heart to donate to this dream for as much or as little as you can. You too will then be able to say you have added a piece of your heart to the world for 2013, and in the future you will be able to visit and see the wonderful thing you helped to create.
Let no-one say - that our animal friends cannot feel the pain and experience the sadness.
Compassion has no limit.... And they deserve better
MORE EVIDENCE OF THE ANIMAL CRISIS
Will you help a New Animal Hospital to emerge here?
Our visit with ESFA to the first new animal clinic at Maryanne's Al Sorat Farm
Smiles and Sadness we encountered along the way:
These are 2 of many smashed coffer troughs on the Plateau that could have been used for
watering animals,and thereby replace the 'untidy' animal rest stations that Zahi got rid of
Would they say if they could talk... That enough is enough?
For this horse at the side of the road it certainly was !
This friendly pup resting from the Sun, just wanted a little kindly attention.
While elsewhere, damaged horses scavenged the plastic garbage bags for food.
The roof next to our apartment, typically also littered with garbage, was home to many cats and kittens
They became quite tame and took their turn night after night to be fed while we there there,
along with our resident Erse (weasel) family including two delightful cubs.
Ironically on the day we arrived home in the UK, we spotted a rabbit foraging loose in the open gardens of our site.
We managed to capture it and found it to be young but quite tame. We tried hard without success to locate its possible owner. Finally through the RSPCA we located a rabbit sanctuary at a farm some distance away. We were pleased to be able to journey there and place it in safe hands, and if the owner made enquiries they would have been directed to where they could retrieve it again. It was a beautiful creature with fur the colour of desert sand.
For all the animals of the world, but especially for the forgotten animals amid the unknowing tourists around the Giza Plateau Egypt.... Please become a part of our plan to make a lasting difference to their unhappy lives.
An extensive gallery of pics and descriptions from our visit with ESFA to Maryanne's Farm