Maryam Bar is a 32-year-old Palestinian woman living in Gaza City. She is a graduate of Islamic Studies. For her, there is much overlapping between her academic credentials and her passion for cats. As a Muslim, she says, being kind to animals is a fundamental aspect of the religion.
Indeed, Maryam is dedicating much of her time to looking after homeless cats in Gaza. Regarding this, she told The Palestine Chronicle, “since I was a little girl, I was always passionate about looking after cats. As I grew older, this passion became ingrained in me. I look after them at home, and I take them to the vet regularly.”
Maryam is looking after 40 cats. And since there is no room in her home for all of them, she divides the ones that she can’t look after among the houses of her relatives.
“Sometimes a cat requires a lot of medical attention,” she says, “in these cases, I raise money from other family members so that we can give her the needed treatment.”
To offset some of the costs, Maryam received training to be able to administer medicine and even injections provided by specialist pharmacists and doctors.
“Many of the cats I have are paralyzed. They require so much effort to look after them. I feed them as if I am their mom.”
One of Maryam’s biggest challenges is that Gaza does not have a specialty shelter that is able to accommodate such homeless animals. Rampant poverty, resulting largely from the protracted siege on the Gaza Strip, has left most of the population in dire economic condition. As a result, taking care of animals and similar charity work has been left to civil society or, as in the case of Maryam, individuals.
“My dream is to start a place, a shelter for homeless cats so that I can provide them with a life of peace and dignity,” Maryam told The Palestine Chronicle.
(All Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)