Mohammad El Houni is 95 years old, and in donkey years, his faithful companion Marwa is not much younger. In the UK, the average donkey can expect to live for 30 to 50 years. But for working animals in the world’s poorest countries, the expected lifespan can be as little as 12 to 15 years.
When SPANA staff arrived with the mobile clinic at Mohammad’s small house in rural Morocco, 26-year-old donkey Marwa was lame and clearly suffering as a result of a problem with her foot.
SPANA vets inspected her carefully and found that she had stepped on a piece of sharp metal that had penetrated the sole of her foot and formed an abscess. Immediately they administered a painkiller and began working on her foot—draining the abscess and soaking the foot using a special rubber boot to help draw out any infection. The boot was invented by the Chemaia team and has helped them no-end as they were finding it increasingly difficult to keep animals still whilst soaking wounds to their feet.
Once Marwa’s foot was clean, the vets applied a clean, dry dressing to keep out the dirt and dust. They will return on their next visit to check on Marwa’s progress.
Despite both of their advanced ages, when Marwa is well, Mohammad still works her to transport whey that he collects locally and sells as animal food. Their work brings in the only income that the family has, which supports Mohammad, his wife, and the three grandchildren that live with them.
Mohammad said “We visit SPANA when we have problems with Marwa because we have no money for a private vet. Without SPANA, Marwa would be in pain, and we would have no way of making money. We depend on SPANA.”
Read more about SPANA's work in Morocco.