SPANA intern cleaning a donkey wound

Each month, we introduce a different member of the team to learn about their experience working for SPANA. This month, we meet Sayma, 23, who is interning with SPANA for one month at the Bou Salem clinic in northern Tunisia.


My alarm goes off….

…at 6.00am. I’m staying in the volunteer room at the SPANA centre, so I don’t have to commute, which is perfect. I just have a coffee for breakfast before I go and feed the animals that are hospitalised in the centre. After the morning vet chores, I take a shower and wait for the rest of the vet team arrives at 7.00am.

I’m responsible for…

…feeding the animals, organising the medication for the mobile clinic, treating the animals with the other vets, and admitting animals that are brought to the centre.

I got the job…

…through my veterinary university. An internship with SPANA is one of the best ways to get experience working with horses, donkeys and mules. You need to have good grades and luckily mine were good enough.

I chose SPANA because I love equids and in the future I hope to have my own private practice. I’m just here for one month and then I’ll continue my internship at the National School of Veterinary Medicine for 11 months.

My typical day…

The team and I arrive at a town’s weekly souk (market) by 8.00am when most of the animal owners are present. We treat a whole range of illnesses and injuries, recommending hospitalisation if the cases are serious.

Afterwards, we drive in the mobile clinic to a mountainous area where lots of people depend on their working animals. We use the megaphone to let people know that SPANA is providing free treatment and the owners soon come with their animals. We go to each location roughly once every three months to provide stability and to reinforce the advice we give to the owners. It can get quite intense, especially if there are lots of cases to treat and it’s a scorching summer’s day. Temperatures can easily reach 35°C and it can be tough work when treating big animals like horses and mules!

We arrive back at the SPANA centre at 2.00pm when I have lunch. I know it’s late, but I’m used to it. I eat things like spaghetti, bread and cheese, or harissa, which is a delicious Tunisian chilli pepper paste.

The animals need feeding again in the afternoon, at the hottest part of the day, I take a nap. If some animals arrive at the centre in the afternoon, then we treat them.

The worst part of my job…

…is mucking out the animals in the centre. Nobody enjoys that part of the job!

The best part of my job…

…is treating the animals. Dr Anis recently taught me how to do teeth rasping which is a really useful and rewarding skill as so many animals need dental treatment.

After work…

…I just relax. here is an internet connection at the refuge, so in the evenings I watch movies – usually American dramas – and at the moment I’m watching ‘Me Before You’. For dinner I prepare something simple and usually go to sleep around midnight. I always sleep well after a long day working with animals.



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