Anna is a hero without knowing it. She is one of my few close friends and she lives in a country where the oppression of women is extreme. She doesn’t live there for fun. She had to go there. This is the story of an individual but more so the cats and how some treat animals.
She moved there for work, that’s all I’m going to say. She and her husband struggled. Anna struggles to this day. She lives in a country where separation of men and women is standard. She lives in a country that thinks public beheadings is totally normal. There is even a square in Riyadh called “Chop-chop square”. She lives under total Sharia law and by the mercy of men.
I’m a cat-lover. Anna is a cat-lover. We are both friends of all animals except mosquitoes and cockroaches. When Anna dropped the news that she is moving to Saudi Arabia for work you should have seen my face. It was not a happy one. I looked something like this:
Let me just say that I strongly advised her not to go, yet she went. And now she is my hero. She saves Saudi street cats. She saves malnutritioned cats, cats without eyes, tortured cats and cats with severe signs of mishandling. How can anyone be so cruel against such a harmless animal as a cat? Well, I don’t know. Perhaps we have different views of what is considered a pet, food or a pest around the world. But cats? Come on… Below is a pic of one of my cats, Doris. She was a Swedish street cat born in the middle of the cold winter – luckily a cat saving organization found the cat family and everything got sorted out.
Now, Anna doesn’t like taking credit for this, but she told me to write something about it if it perhaps could help any cat in any part of the world. And in this case the Saudi mistreated, tortured and malnutritioned street cats looks like this when she finds them.
Is it disturbing? Against all odds, in Saudi Arabia, as a Western European woman she saves cats. She takes them to the veterinary who more or less pro-bono helps out in every way she can with vaccinations, sterilizations and giving them basic first aid or fixing whatever needs to be fixed. A broken limb, a burn by someone litting the cat on fire, someone throwing acid liquids or other stuff at the cats. Kids and adults kicking the cats who are in their way. Torturing them for fun I suppose. What a seriously disturbing society. Not only do they suppress women and do extrajudicial killings of journalists abroad, they also torture cats. And their own people as we all know.
The veterinary is Anna’s biggest lifeline here. Anna needs her as much as the veterinary in some way needs Anna. It is nothing less of a miracle they found each other. The surgeries and treatments they both perform are heroic. Yet so small.
Yes, this is just a drop of water in the ocean. A sand in the desert. But it’s ever so important. It shows the bravery of women living under a brutal dictatorship saving animals mistreated of the population. I would never have the courage to do this but they do. Why are animal cruelty so common? Why does it exist in some form all over the world? I remember once in Kfar Saba I was sitting in some kind of semi-fast food junkhole of a restaurant eating my Shawarma, a street cat turned up and I gave it some of my Shawarma. The Shawarma guy/owner started screaming at me – “don’t give the cats food! Eat it! They are dirty and run around here” and he kept ranting. And yes it was a he. A man. Again. Why can we men never do the right thing? Why is there a run-down Zoo in the Golan heights filled with crocodiles and parrots living under disgusting conditions? They put on a show where the parrots perform acts and stunts such as bicycling over a bridge and over-feeding the crocodiles just to please the crowds. And they cheer.
And no, I can’t find words for the Zoo in Gaza. Is there anything left of it or it’s animals? I am not sure I want to know.
And by the way, I left my Shawarma in Kfar Saba and went home. Had some water melon instead – probably nurtured, picked and sold by an under-paid farmer.
If you want to help Anna, adopt a street cat or do something nice against animal cruelty – send me an e-mail, or comment below. I don’t show Anna’s face here so she doesn’t get in trouble. She also has a GoFund-me page. And if you feel it’s none of your business of what’s going on in a really backwards country, have a look in your backyard – perhaps there is someone you can help there.