In the midst of a city devastated by war, there’s a place of peace for animals and children.
Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, an electrician and ambulance driver, runs a sanctuary in Aleppo where he feeds and cares for more than a hundred cats, many of which were left behind when their owners fled Syria’s brutal civil war.
In a September interview with the BBC, he swore that he’d stay and protect his furry charges “no matter what.”
After Aljaleel’s bravery and compassion first made international headlines in 2014, an Italian woman named Alessandra Abidin reached out to him via Facebook to offer help. Together, the two set up a Facebook group, Il gattaro d’Aleppo — “the cat man of Aleppo” — where he could share photos and news with his supporters around the world.
Aljaleel posts new photos nearly every day.
The pair also set up a mechanism for people around the world to donate to Aljaleel. With the funds he received, he managed to build not only a proper shelter for the cats, but also a playground nearby for local children.
Those who wish to donate can join the Facebook group and message Abidin privately, she told HuffPost.
Local organizations bring children there as a distraction from attacks and airstrikes, Syria Direct reported in August. Other donations go to providing food for the cats as well as local people.
“There is a firm bond between humanitarianism and caring for animals,” Aljaleel told Syria Direct. “Between rescuing an injured person who might die and an animal who has been injured and needs help.”