insideKENT chats to Jan Leeming about Safe Haven for Donkeys Charity

Jan Leeming

What makes Safe Haven for Donkeys such a special charity and why do you love working with them?

Any charity is special, but Safe Haven for Donkeys is especially so, as they work within both the Israel and the Palestinian territories and help donkeys regardless of the ethnicity of the owners. They house and care for unwanted donkeys as well as providing veterinary care for working donkeys, especially in the West Bank, where they mostly belong to poor farmers, and in Egypt where the proliferation of housebuilding results in these poor creatures working in the brick kilns, being overworked and wearing ill fitting harnesses. They have little shade and often no water and, because of lack of education, their hooves are also often in poor condition. The mobile vet teams treat these donkeys as well as educating the owners to provide better care for their equines.

What do you love most about donkeys? Why are you inspired to work with them?

I love all animals but donkeys are particularly appealing and it makes my heart bleed when I see how badly working donkeys are treated. So much of the bad treatment is as a result of poor education. The owners don’t realise that by looking after their working animals in a better, more humane way, they would get more out of them for a longer period. I’m asked to support many charities and obviously can’t agree to all requests. With Safe Haven for Donkeys, one can see obvious and very real advances in equine care.

Tell us about some of the donkeys at Safe Haven – are there any especially sweet or funny characters? 

One donkey that springs to mind is Jan – a young friendly donkey that Safe Haven kindly named after me when I first became patron, earlier this year. Safe Haven’s resident vet Dr Rakan first saw this donkey back in June, when she was wounded by a sharp piece of metal whilst pulling a cart. Unfortunately, despite being provided with medicines, the owner struggled to care for her and Jan’s wounds became infected. 

An abscess formed on her back and poor Jan was in terrible pain and suffering. Her owner brought her back to the charity’s Rescue Centre in Nablus in the West Bank and Dr Rakan gave her strong painkillers and antibiotics and operated to drain her abscess. Jan is getting better every day and is now living in comfort at the Rescue Centre.  

Why were you inspired to adopt a donkey? Tell us a little about the adoption scheme.

Safe Haven offers animal lovers the chance to adopt one of the lovely donkeys from Israel and the West Bank. When asked to become a patron I was told that a new arrival was going to be named after me. It seems only natural that I should have a special interest in Little Jan and I have since adopted her and am looking forward to receiving regular updates on her progress.

I was due to visit the sanctuaries near Tel Aviv and at Nablus but due to the sad conflict there at the moment, my visit will be postponed. However, as soon as possible, I shall pay a visit and can’t wait to hug my own little Jan.

Readers can choose their own donkey, from baby donkeys to the older drove of retirees, from just £3 a month, or £36 a year. With every adoption you receive a photo of your adopted donkey, a record card and adoption certificate, a small cuddly donkey and regular updates on your adopted donkey.

Visit to find out more.

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

In line with so many charities, Safe Haven for Donkeys relies entirely on donations from the public to continue its vital work. To find out more, donate and/or sign up to their weekly newsletter, visit:

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