On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the women who transform the lives of working animals like Derese, a donkey in urgent need of treatment from SPANA vets in Ethiopia.
Derese is a donkey from Debre Birhan, a town in central Ethiopia. She helps her owner, 30-year-old Gebeyehu, to earn a basic income by transporting goods to surrounding rural villages. It’s an important role, as Derese delivers essential food and water to communities that rely on her reaching them.
One day, Gebeyehu noticed that Derese was squinting in the bright sunlight. Her left eye was weeping and looked swollen, sore and irritated. Concerned for his donkey’s health, Gebeyehu took Derese to the SPANA mobile veterinary clinic for treatment.
At the clinic, Derese was seen immediately by SPANA vets Dr Hanna Zewdu and Dr Mathilde Merridale-Punter. They examined Derese’s eye carefully. Luckily, her vision was unaffected, but her eye was clearly painful. They carefully checked if there were any foreign bodies lodged around the eye that could be causing the problem. When they found none, they applied a safe fluorescein stain to find out if there was any damage to the surface of Derese’s eye. This revealed that Derese was suffering from a corneal ulcer, so the vets gave Derese some much-needed pain relief and administered an antibiotic ointment to treat the infection. They then showed Gebeyehu how to apply the ointment correctly, so that he could continue Derese’s treatment at home. Gebeyehu was also advised to rest Derese and protect her sore eye from sunlight until the ulcer healed.
Dr Hanna and Dr Mathilde subsequently gave Derese a full health check. They found that Derese’s teeth had become overgrown and some sharp points were rubbing into her cheeks, which had caused ulcers to develop in her mouth. Dental issues like this can make it painful for donkeys to grind and chew their food. The team rasped Derese’s teeth to correct the overgrowth and make her mouth more comfortable.
Gebeyehu was very happy that Derese had received such caring treatment. He said: ‘I would not be able to live without my donkey. Thank you SPANA for all your help.’
SPANA was founded by two pioneering women – Kate and Nina Hosali – back in 1923. Today, female vets, technicians and teachers continue to be a key part of our team at SPANA. Every day, across the world, they provide life-changing veterinary treatment to working animals in need, train animal owners in humane care, and teach children love and respect for working animals. This vital work is only possible because of your kindness and generosity. From everyone at SPANA, thank you.