Wed, Jun 21, 2017 - Page 14 News List

The Cat Man of Aleppo

Ambulance driver Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel holds a cat in Masaken Hanano in Aleppo in this undated photo.

Photo: Reuters

In the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo, ambulance driver and paramedic Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel has been caring for homeless animals since 2013 in what was rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Aljaleel has become known as the “Cat Man of Aleppo” —a symbol of resilience and compassion amid war and devastation.

When people fled their neighborhoods, Aljaleel says, the cats started to come to his area, as he was already feeding strays. Fleeing families would drop their cats off with him before leaving the city in search of safety. Over time, the number of cats grew from six or seven to more than 170 felines.

Aljaleel said his aim was originally to protect, feed and keep the animals healthy, but then children would come to play with them, too. It was not just cats, either: Aljaleel would also take care of stray dogs, feeding them and providing them basic veterinary care.

Then, in November, bombs struck the shelter, and most of the cats inside were killed. Aljaleel was forced to flee the city with just a handful of the survivors, and rebuilt the shelter in the countryside west of Aleppo.

His new house is home to about 25 cats. But for Aljaleel and the people who visit it, it is more than just a cat sanctuary. “It seeks to erase the war from children’s minds,” he said. “Caring for the cats is a gateway to bringing goodwill to the country and build it around being more merciful.”

(Liberty Times, translated by Lin Lee-kai)





war-torn adj.

戰火摧殘 (zhan4 huo3 cui1 can2)

homeless adj.

無家可歸 (wu2 jia1 ke3 gui1)

devastation n.

破壞 (po4 huai4)

flee v.

逃離 (tao2 li2)

be killed phr.

罹難 (li2 nan4)




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