Some of you know I look after the charity's website and social media. I have known Lucy for over 15 years now and had visited her in Israel a few times before, but it had been a while and I had never seen her new sanctuary, so I took the decision to go out there as a volunteer to take pictures, film a little and try to help out as much as I could.
I flew out last month. And what a joy it was to leave the arctic conditions of the 'Beast from the East' behind and emerge into the warm temperatures of Tel Aviv on a sunny March afternoon!
As said, it had been a few years since my last visit and I couldn't wait to see the new sanctuary and meet its inhabitants (37 donkeys and 4 horses, and three doggies). And Lucy of course!
I can honestly say, the sanctuary surpassed my expectations – the field is so much larger than I had expected, the animals have plenty of space to roam around and when I was there, there was still a lot of greenery for them to chomp on. It felt really peaceful and the donkeys looked – as I've come to expect from Lucy – very well cared for. The stables are also large and have several separate areas for more vulnerable donkeys.
What I found particularly poignant was the vast difference between donkeys like little Sam, born at the sanctuary to gentle, blind Jane (who was already pregnant when Lucy rescued her), and the donkeys that had been rescued from abuse. The former would follow me around like puppies, wanting cuddles and strokes, totally trusting (and utterly mischievous!), whilst with the others you could often see how they were still wary of people, some still flinching if I made a sudden movement, as if they were expecting to be beaten. With Lucy's loving care, however, they are making such progress. There was little Zachariah, for example, the donkey who was found near Israel’s border to Syria with his eyes gouged out and who wouldn't let anyone near him at first. When I visited, he let Lucy stroke him and cuddle him, something that was unthinkable just a few months ago. The others, too, are learning that there are also kind humans, and many follow Lucy around the field like she’s the Pied Piper!
Zachariah (click on the pictures for larger version and description)
The other thing that struck me was the sheer amount of work Lucy has to do on a daily basis. The setup is very low-tech – no tractors or other fancy things to help with the work, just good old-fashioned hard manual labour – shovels, wheelbarrows, pitchforks. The stables have to be cleaned out every day – and let me tell you, those donkeys are veritable poop-machines!
(Click on the pictures for larger version and description)