A personal letter from me to you
29.05.2022

Dear supporters and followers,

This is Sharon Cohen, the founder of Starting Over. I have chosen this time to reach out in person, due to the difficulties the association is facing recently.

This letter is long, but every word is critically important for the continued existence of the sanctuary, please read it through to the end.

I would like to share with the you the association’s plans for the future, but before that it is important for me to share with you our challenging everyday reality, which will provide you with a deeper understanding of the association's next steps.

As most of you know, we have been fighting with all our might to protect the donkey population in Israel and provide every donkey in distress, those who have already suffered at the hands of their abusers and those who clearly face such grim prospect, a safe refuge within the confines of the sanctuary.

The fate of donkeys in Israel is sad and bitter. In the slightly less bad case, they collapse and die after long years of hard labor. In the worst case, they fall victim to horrific abuse, mostly inflicted by children for amusement, or, once they can no longer carry heavy loads, they are sold by merchants to Gaza, and from there are exported to Egypt as part of the donkey skin trade.

 

This global trade takes place because, unfortunately for donkeys, a highly sought-after ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine and cosmetics, known as ejiao, is produced from collagen extracted from donkey skin. {below is a link to the company leading the global donkey skin trade: http://www.dongeejiao.com} In 2016, this trade has claimed the lives of 4.8 million donkeys exported from all over the world. Since then, the donkey skin trade has expanded even further, putting the world donkey population under serious threat {below is a link to detailed reports by a donkey rescue and welfare organization in the UK: https://did.li/lwXfT}.


In recent years, thousands of donkeys have been transferred to Gaza by traders, with the consent of the Israeli authorities.
Estimates from traders and local authorities suggest at most 400 donkeys, who do not reside in sanctuaries and are facing danger, remain in Israel.
This leaves us with a number that, based on our future plans, is manageable and allows us to rescue all the donkeys remaining in Israel.

A donkey is a strong and resilient animal, capable of surviving under conditions of daily abuse, carrying carts full of iron and heavy loads, even when their bodies are completely exhausted.


In the past year, the association took in more than 350 donkeys from donkey traders, donkeys that were set to be exported to Gaza and Egypt and there find their death.


Most of the female donkeys that came to the shelter were pregnant, almost doubling the number of female donkeys, for this purpose we set up a donkey maternity ward.


It is important to note that there is no breeding in the sanctuary, except for female donkeys that arrived while already pregnant.
Given the numerous animals that entered the sanctuary, the association had to rent additional land so that we could place the donkeys in separate compounds according to their needs and condition: pregnant donkeys, towns, yet unneutered males, thin and exhausted donkeys over the age of 30, and injured and disabled donkeys in need of a long rehabilitation.

In addition, the association regularly receives requests from local authorities, the police, and the army, all helpless as they have no solution to address the state of donkeys in Israel.

The association has taken upon itself to save the donkey population in Israel.
You may have heard of our new initiative, intended to transport hundreds of donkeys to a sanctuary in France, an initiative whose ultimate goal is placing all donkeys under the care of sanctuaries, whether it is with us in our sanctuary or in sanctuaries in Europe.

But for us to fully implement this scheme, we need your help in getting us through the coming months. There are currently 500 survivors, happy and content donkeys in the sanctuary, who require over 3 tons of hay a day, and living conditions that will make up for the hardship they have experienced for decades.
Three tons of hay cost about 3,600 NIS, this is the daily cost solely for the donkeys. The monthly cost is over 100,000 NIS. Again, solely for the donkeys.

The first flight, for the first 50 donkeys, is expected to depart on 18.06.2022, less than a month from now, the plan is to continue the flights at one-month intervals.
To secure funding for this initiative, we have a group of people who are in touch with international organizations and foundations that support such projects and believe in the importance of saving the remaining donkeys in Israel, protecting this endangered population, thereby promoting the effort to stop the constantly expanding donkey skin trade and their daily abuse. We are joined in our effort by MK Jasmine Sachs Friedman and other good people.

Because of our commitment to not leaving behind any donkey in distress, and despite knowing the scheme we are working on is the best one for the donkeys and for the sanctuary in general, we are facing very difficult and challenging times, physically, financially, and mentally.


A team of 12 employees and dozens of volunteers are working around the clock to provide the animals the best care possible.


The maintenance crew oversees feeding and cleaning hundreds of animals every day, strenuous physical work that is only getting more intense and demanding.


A professional medical team of 4 women who care of the animals with great dedication, providing medications and daily medical treatments, changing bandages, working long shifts that in effect continue even after they are not physically in the sanctuary. And alongside all this, an educational center that is putting all its efforts towards preventing future abuse.

Despite the difficult period we are going through, we know this is temporary and that we must remain strong and get through it to achieve a better future.

As I wrote, the cost of hay for feeding the donkeys by itself is over 100,000 NIS per month.


We need your help in funding the hay in the coming months, during which hundreds of donkeys will be transported to a sanctuary in France, a move which will drastically reduce the association's expenses and will allow us to move forward with the project of rescuing Israeli donkeys and granting them a protected species status so the issue of their imminent extinction will be resolved immediately!

I write to you on behalf of the donkeys of Israel, the other animals that need us and the sanctuary’s staff who fight for them every single day: In order to get through this period, we need your support to purchase hay.

* If we buy the hay now, at the beginning of the season, its cost will be significantly cheaper.

Dear supporters and friends, from the outset you have put your faith in me and believed in my intentions and efforts for the animals, without your support I would not have had the courage to found the association and rescue so many animals.

I wish to personally thank you, from the bottom of my heart for the confidence you have given me and for the trust you put in me, without you none of this would have been possible.

Please continue to support me and the association's activities during this period, so that we can endure it and implement the significant move of rescuing all the donkeys in Israel from the cruel destiny that awaits them.

We will be grateful for any support you can provide and for sharing this with members.

 

Thanks,

Sharon

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Bank Name: ISRAEL DISCOUNT BANK LTD.

Account name: Start over

Swift Code: IDBLILITXXX

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