The human faces of ESMA: film director Sherif Amasha takes a starring role with Egypt’s neediest horses

Although you may be familiar with the animals ESMA helps, you may not know so much about the people who make our work possible. This month we are introducing a feature on our blog where we will introduce the “Esmarians” behind ESMA, highlighting a new face each month.

An independent film director and instructor at the Higher Institute for Cinema in Cairo, Sherif Amasha has a deep love of animals.  He joined ESMA’s circle of volunteers just before the revolution, in December 2010. At that time, no one anticipated the revolution that would begin just the next month, nor did anyone imagine the chain of events that would result in a massive crisis at the horse stables near the Pyramids when the revolution brought the flow of tourists to Egypt to a complete halt.

Horses line up for treatment in the shadow of the Pyramids

The owners of the stables tend to view their horses as commodities, not living creatures with their own rights, and when tourists stopped coming to ride their horses, they simply cut way back on the level of feeding.

ESMA stepped into the quickly deteriorating situation to provide relief to thousands of horses, and many of you made these very expensive efforts financially possible.   What you might not have known was that once ESMA board member Susie Nassar got this program off the ground and running, it was Sherif who stepped into the leadership role to continue and coordinate ESMA’s horse feeding intervention and make it all possible.

Sherif examines a horse at Nezlet El Samman

This challenging role includes not only buying and packaging the feed, scheduling volunteers, setting up and supervising the distribution station, but, most importantly, working to establish a relationship of trust with the horse owners so that they will begin to listen to our advice on care and treatment.  Sherif has always maintained that developing these relations is the key to improving welfare for these animals. Read more about Sherif and ESMA’s work with these horses in this excellent article by Ingrid Wassmann from El Ahram weekly.

For the last six months, ESMA has continued this program in partnership with The Brooke, and we hope that when our current Memorandum of Understanding with The Brooke ends, it will be willing to renew the agreement to continue working together since these horses are not yet being taken full care of by their owners.

Sherif with members of the ESMA and Brooke team

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