Ambulance driver and paramedic Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel built a shelter for cats and other animals in Aleppo, at one point caring for 170 animals. After being evacuated from the heavily shelled city, taking a few of the cats with him, Aljaleel rebuilt his cat sanctuary in the countryside west of Aleppo, along with a veterinary clinic that provides free care, a medical center, a playground, and several kindergartens and schools. In an Al-Jazeera TV interview, which aired on February 12, Aljaleel said that they have daily activities with schoolchildren and orphans "in order to instill in their hearts goodness and compassion for animals" and to "try to alleviate the effects of what is going on in our country."
Following is a transcript:
Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel: I am Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, an ambulance driver and paramedic from Aleppo. I established a cat shelter and a clinic in Aleppo. We provided services to people and helped the animals. I had 170 animals in Aleppo. When we were driven out of Aleppo by the heavy shelling, many of the cats died. Some cats ran away and 22 cats came with us. We put them in plastic baskets and got them out, when the families were evacuated to the countryside west of Aleppo. Here, my friends asked me to repeat what I did in Aleppo – to build another shelter in this area. Allah be praised, I have managed to build a new shelter for cats, in addition to my work as a first aid responder.
We established a veterinary clinic, which treats all types of animals for free – sheep, cows, and so on. In addition, we help wounded and sick cats. We treat them with the help of a veterinarian. He gives them treatment, and we take care of them. We have also established a medical center, a clinic for people, as well as a children’s playground and several kindergartens and schools. We have daily activities with schoolchildren and orphans. Every school has a day when they come and visit the cats and play in the playground. They get to know the cats in the shelter. We get them familiar with this project, in order to instill in their hearts goodness and compassion for animals. We teach kids from early on that these animals are friendly and not harmful, because there are many children who are afraid of them. We show them the animals, and they are very happy. There are many cats here. We take them to the playground and give them a present and some candy. We try to alleviate the effects of what is going on in our country.