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Day 237 – The Brooke Hospital for Horses

16th May 2012

Saving lives; that was what we had planned for the day, saving lives. Our taxi pulled into a Gizan back street beneath the Pyramids. We were at the Ahmed Foula Stables. Mr Foula was a gentleman who owned forty horses, all working in the pyramids area. He had offered his stables as a place from which the Brooke Horse vets could work. It was at these stables we met a gentleman named Ammr, Dr Ammr Mahmoud to be precise. Dr Mahmoud is the Cairo Region Veterinary Officer and runs biweekly clinics from the back of his Toyota Hilux; we were lucky to be able to join him. With the doctor was a three strong support team; a scribe to note the case details, diagnosis and treatments and two veterinary technicians who could draw up and administer medicines as well as preparing the horses for the doctor and completing more time consuming tasks such as dressing changes.

A miscommunication meant that, by the time we had arrived, the doctor had begun and completed his work for the day at that particular site. We sat for an hour discussing the problems he faces, common diseases and ailments and received an insight into how the horse industry works near the pyramids and the effects that have been felt post revolution.

It appeared to be a quite sad state of affairs. The word on most Egyptian lips was ‘tourists,’ everyone wants more of them. Our airplane pilot campsite owner wants to fly them in and out, the hotels want to house them again, the boats want to sail them, the restaurateurs want to feed them, the taxis and horse carriages want to transport them and the suppliers to all these industries want to keep supplying them. The rest of the country just wants to benefit from the all important currency that is left behind. The people are expectant, they worry that the new president will not meet the required mark; but mostly they just hope that the new president will be ‘a good man; a man who does what is right.’ Everyone worries that Mubarak was too rich and too corrupt and it seems to be known that he was ‘not good and one of the richest men in the world’ but people still hanker for the stability they had when he was in power. Just one week before Egypt’s first democratic election in sixty years the election fever seems more like a subdued ‘let’s get on with it.’ The billboards of Cairo are festooned with the noble and skyward looking middle aged and greying faces of the would be statesmen. Every square inch of the city has been papered and repapered with those same faces; the rhetoric is apparently flowing nightly, though given the language barrier and lack of a television set this is lost on us. The 23rd May may or may not change things in Egypt, and that’s what Ammr seemed to infer. He had only just ceased the emergency food supply campaign that aimed at preventing the out of work equine population starving to death as owners battled to make ends meet in an industry brought to its knees.

Brooke Hospital had been getting through ten tonnes of fodder per week trying to supplement the diets of around one thousand nine hundred horses and donkeys. The food had been essential but looking around us there were great discrepancies in the condition and health of the horses around us. This, Ammr told us, was down to individual owners, some fed there stock well, others didn’t. Some owners drove fancy cars and others didn’t, but personal wealth had no correlation to condition of horses.

We travelled with Ammr to his second site and watched and discussed cases whilst chatting to owners. As western faces Ammr told us that we were seen as people of great knowledge and that when we spoke it was held as the truth. We however, limited our ‘advice’ to such statements as ‘feed this one more’ and ‘get his feet trimmed.’ Medical cases were discussed with Ammr and he maintained his authority, it would neither have been appropriate or desirable to question Ammr publicly or to offer advice directly to owners. And besides, Ammr was a very competent veterinarian, well experienced in the local problems his clients faced, chronic Babesia, Habronema infestations, scabies transmitted by the camels that most horses live alongside, and various wounds induced by improper harnessing.

It was a spectacular setting, and though we took no photos, it is not hard to imagine a Dr Somers crouched over aside her patient, the stethoscope placed to a belligerent asses chest, the logo emblazoned Brooke Hilux at her other side and the Great Pyramid of Cheops appearing as a theatrical backdrop.

We left Ammr and went for another bite to eat. Falafels were again the meal of choice; they would be our downfall.

Posted by ibeamish 12:13 Archived in Egypt

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