The January 25th Revolution last year took us all by surprise. My first fear was for the then 600-plus cats and dogs in our shelter. We only had a couple of workers and no vets, as, during those early days, it was impossible to move around freely. Our biggest fear was how we were going to feed our animals. Food was becoming scarce and donations had almost come to a halt.

It was a complete shock for us to realise that during the first couple of weeks we would not only be responsible for our animals at the shelter, but also for more than 600 starving horses who worked in the Pyramids area. The owners had been stripped of all income as the mass exodus of tourists and ex-pats started.

We were alerted to the crisis by a riding instructor who worked regularly in the area. Within days we’d arranged for an Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) committee to visit and see for ourselves. It was devastating. She led us first of all to a ‘graveyard’, where scores of dead horses (and a few camels) lay. Most distressing of all was the sight of young foals next to their mothers.

We had to act urgently to save the rest of the horses, who were obviously starving to death day by day. We made an urgent appeal and managed to collect enough cash in the beginning to start feeding the horses every other day. The numbers were incredible. Up to 600 horses per feeding. We gave them rations to last a few days. The early days were very difficult as fights broke out between the owners to claim food for their starving animals. On one occasion our truck, carrying food, was attacked and all the food stolen. That’s how desperate they were.

A year on and we are still trying to feed these horses. We are now down to 300–400 of the worst cases, and the frequency of feedings is less (every 10–15 days), but those poor horses and their owners still wait patiently in line for their rations. Because while there is no tourism in Egypt they rely completely on us.

Susie Nassar is a founding member of ESMA (Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals).