War puts people in survival mode. Some folks become generous and compassionate towards their fellow-beings, while others only care for their own life and survival. It’s hard to stay morally grounded during times of upheaval. Syria has been facing a civil war since 2011, with the city of Aleppo as the battle ground for many air strikes. According to the United Nations, more than 11 million Syrians have fled the country. Another 13.5 million Syrians in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance. There is one man who stayed back despite the odds to help men, women, and children suffering but also the animals, particularly cats.Refugees leave with whatever they are wearing. For many crossing multiple borders, do not take any possessions, let alone pets with them.
Aljaleel, is a resident of Aleppo, the largest city in Syria. It has a strategic significance in the civil war as it is divided between the government and the opposing force. While many of his family and friends have fled, Alaa Aljaleel remained behind to provide selfless care and love to as many as 20 cats in 2011. That number later increased to 100. He is known as the “Cat-man of Aleppo.”
Aljaleel drives an ambulance 24/7 around the city looking out for orphans, disabled, elderly, and animals.
The cats began coming to him because soon after the initial airstrikes he put out some food for the thunderstruck animals. “When people left, cats started coming to me,” explains Aljaleel.
Aljaleel has a wife and three young children who help him with his noble work of providing food and shelter to the voiceless animals. He also provides first aid and transports victims to nearby hospitals. “Once we have our family by our side there is nothing stopping us,” says Aljaleel.
A sanctuary was established just a year after Aljaleel started his mission. He feeds more than a 100 cats that stay with him in an allotted small plot. He spends approximately $4 per day to feed the felines.
The Syrian charity in France allows him to distribute money to people in need. Aljaleel admits that the help from complete strangers boosts his morale and helps him carry forward with his work.