A famous cat sanctuary in east Aleppo, Syria, gave people living there a glimmer of hope throughout the war. But then , the sanctuary was bombed, and it really seemed like any possibility of life returning to normal was gone. But then, one man did the most amazing thing!
Mohammad Alaa Jaleel, who goes by the name Alaa, began taking care of the animals that were left behind, as well as the strays who roamed the ruins of the city Aleppo.He started out with about just 20 cats. But only after a year, there were over 100 of cats there, and Alaa officially started the cat sanctuary.
The sanctuary got the name the House of Cats Ernesto, after his own pet cat Ernesto. There was a garden and also a playground for the children. Alaa’s acts of kindness and aslo humanitarian efforts made headlines all over the world.
“We protect them in this little cat sanctuary,” Alaa said back in September. “Since everyone has left the country, including my own friends, so these cats are my friends here”. But then in November Aleppo was bombed and everything got destroyed. A lot of people and animals died and the cat sanctuary got completely destroyed.
Alaa stayed until the last moments, until finally he decided to flee with his family to Turkey, along with his pet cat, Ernesto.
He saved his family and his own life and Alaa was already making plans how to return to Aleppo and start all over again. Bolstered with support from plenty people all over the world, Alaa was able to start planning the new cat sanctuary in the ruins of Aleppo.
Finally, earlier this year, Alaa traveled from Turkey back to Aleppo to find a new spot for the cat sanctuary. Alaa brought with him a new kitty Feras (Ernesto’s new best friend). Also he brought a new dog named Hope in memory of the dog who died in the bombing.
But there is new life now around Aleppo. And Alaa found a wonderful new space, which he has started filling with supplies, bringing them in his new ambulance. Cats started coming to the new sanctuary, which new name is the Ernesto Paradise.
And this week, a cat Honey, who lived there at the sanctuary before it got bombed, came back to Alaa and Ernesto and to the new sanctuary.
“One of our cats from the ex-House of Cats Ernesto in Aleppo, came back today,” Abidin wrote earlier this week. “My joy is immense, welcome back home, Honey”.