Q&A with SPANA Morocco Country Director Professor Hassan Alyakine
How long have you been working for SPANA?
I graduated from the Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II in 1989, going on to work as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine and Surgery for equines and small animals. Two years later, I began work with SPANA, based at a veterinary centre around 200 miles north of Marrakech. From 2008, I was responsible for managing the SPANA centre in Morocco, before my appointment as Country Director January 2014. SPANA’s founders Kate and Nina Hosali began working in Morocco in 1925 and – nearly 100 years on – the work they started is thriving.
What does your role involve?
I spend my time coordinating all of SPANA’s charitable activities in Morocco. This not only means SPANA’s veterinary work, but the management of relationships we have with other charities and third parties involved with the welfare of working animals. Being involved with SPANA’s projects across the whole of Morocco gives me a great opportunity to ensure it is working harmoniously.
Is teaching a significant part of your role?
Yes, and it’s important on so many levels. While it’s key to teach owners and children, we also need to continually educate all staff working in the SPANA centres. This allows them to pass on the most current knowledge directly to owners as they treat their animals.
What are the challenges facing working animals?
There are obvious problems facing working animals, like harness wounds and lameness, but these problems are often compounded by a lack of appropriate animal welfare legislation. SPANA in Morocco faces all of these difficulties, but we’re making real progress.
Are you optimistic about the future for working animals and animal welfare in Morocco?
We have to be optimistic in order to continue to achieve so much for the welfare of working animals. This optimism is supported by our strong reputation within local communities; hardworking and committed staff, and good relationships with authorities and education institutions.
What do you like most about your role?
What I like most about my job is the pleasure I get from saving an animal or ensuring its welfare through education. Since I’ve been working for SPANA, I’ve seen great changes in people’s attitudes towards their animals. When I first started, we would have to go out and persuade people to get their animals treated. Now they come to us, and I think that’s a huge achievement for the charity.