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A follow-up visit to Ras Atira

A few days ago, Lucy and her helpers made their second visit to the Palestinian West Bank village of Ras Atira to offer free veterinary/medical help and treat some of the poor working donkeys, mules and horses there. Here is Lucy’s account of that follow-up visit:

‘After our previous visit to Ras Atira I had felt more hopeful, but this time the atmosphere was different and I left feeling more than sad and despondent.

It is currently the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan when people fast from sunrise to sun down so of course it is not an easy time for people.

Cases that we’d treated two weeks previously, although definitely improved, weren't what we’d hoped they would be because owners had clearly not properly continued the treatments at home despite the fact that we’d given all the supplies to do so, such as bandages and wound ointments. And the little nose chain covers that are so carefully and lovingly made by supporters, that we give out to protect the soft noses from the chains, had all gone. When I asked why, the response was that they are unable to control the donkeys because they cannot feel the tug of the chain with a cover over it.

At times I despair and though try to be strong, there are times when I feel it’s such an unending uphill battle that the only release is to just let the tears flow.

One little soul in particular really pulled at my heart, they all do, but this one little donkey reminded me so much of one of our boys at our sanctuary - Sam. Our Sam was born at our sanctuary two years ago to his dear elderly, rescued mother who is blind, Jane. Sam, having never known any cruelty or abuse, is of course full of love, life, spirit and joy. The little donkey that resembled him however, had clearly lost his spirit. He was only afraid, small and afraid and looked as though he had given up despite his young age.

He had some sort of injury to his lower jaw and bless his little heart, stood still while we treated him, did what we could for him. I desperately wanted to take him but he’d arrived with another donkey and I cannot bear the thought of possibly splitting up two devoted friends... And it’s not just that, also he is just one among so many and there’s the added problem of the Ministry or Agriculture not permitting animals to be taken from the Palestinian West Bank, across the border into Israel.

So the next best thing can only be to work more in the Palestinian West Bank to bring as much relief as possible, as frequently as possible to the animals there and to help their owners. Our biggest hurdle though is the fact that we are just one tiny organization with a mammoth task. There are only two of us voluntarily working to run our sanctuary and try to tackle the situation faced by suffering, working donkeys here. We’ve recently started paying a small amount of money to our Palestinian vet and farrier/assistant to join us on our outreach visits.

We try our best and our hardest but with literally no spare resources and funds, I honestly don’t know what the answer is other than to just keep trying to soldier on in the face of so much opposition, adversity, political barriers, divides and risks as well as the enormous cultural differences, not to mention a complete lack of manpower and time to dedicate to this. Probably the only power we’ve got at this moment is prayer. Prayer for change, prayer for relief, prayer for compassion and just a kind hand, a more gentle hand upon those animals. And a prayer for the funds necessary to eventually be able to organize, pay and equip a dedicated team of three or four local Palestinians to carry out this crucial work at least once or twice a week in various villages and towns.’

Please if you are able to make a contribution to help Lucy’s work, we would be so extremely grateful. Thank you so much for your desperately needed support and prayers!

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