Back in 2016 the cat man of Aleppo, Mohammad Aljaleel, melted the hearts of so many people when his sanctuary in war torn Syria featured in a BBC documentary.
A few weeks after the film was shown Mohammad had to watch his cat sanctuary being bombed and destroyed. During the latter stages of the siege of Aleppo chlorine gas was also used meaning that the majority of his 180 cats had been killed or gone missing. Mohammad spent months moving from one district to another whilst the city was under siege. During this time he not only looked after the few cats that had miraculously survived but he started to rescue injured people transporting them to underground hospitals. In December 2016 he was forced to leave the city and left as part of the convoy with his last 6 cats and a van of injured people he had managed to help.
Mohammad was able to use crowd funding monies from cat lovers all around the world planning to build a bigger and better cat sanctuary and as soon as he had the chance to get back to Aleppo with a team of helpers they were able to do this. Not only did they build the sanctuary but they ran animal welfare courses for children to help develop empathy after all of the horrible things they had seen. He also built a children’s playground next to the sanctuary so that the children could for a short period of time be normal children and not those having witnessed all sorts of atrocities.
The new animal sanctuary has expanded so much and now includes an orphanage, a kindergarten, a veterinary clinic and is also home to dogs, monkeys, rabbits, chickens and a horse. He is through this system providing a service to the community that no other has or will do. He is reported as saying the animals and children are the forgotten ones in war – it is the adults that often behave so badly.
How amazing is this that someone has managed to achieve so much and it is so true what he says children and animals are the ones that suffer most in conflict and being able to teach empathy and self worth is one that hopefully will help future generations learn that war isn’t the way forward and that people and animals should be able to live alongside each other in harmony. This is a story of hope, animals and making a real difference, just the type of story that Banana Crumble are trying to promote.
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