“It’s been a very challenging time for us. We were not ready for this. We were already suffering before the explosion. We had the pandemic. And Lebanon was suffering a major economic crash. It’s a lot to absorb,” begins the exhausted and tired Maggie Shaarawi from the organization Animals Lebanon.
Sharaawi and her team have been working day and night to help animals that have been affected by the Beirut blast. “Luckily, we are able to manage. We are having lots of kind people volunteer with us on the ground. We have about 200 volunteers coming in daily.”
Since the blast, they’ve reunited 104 animals with their guardians, taken 52 animals in their care and distributed more than 2000 kilograms of food in different areas for affected animals.
They have set up a stand with pictures of animals that are still missing; mostly cats, dogs and some turtles. “We are coming every day here from morning till night, going to the affected areas, going inside buildings, removing rubble. Kind volunteers drive our people to the affected areas on motorcycles and help us rush animals to the vet.”
Animals bring joy in difficult times
“A lot of the people have lost their home, their cars…. and lost their jobs. The country is falling apart. We have no electricity, we have polluted water, the air is so polluted and we have a corrupt government. The best thing we have is animals. Their souls bring joy to us every day,” Sharaawi says. “At Animals Lebanon, this is what we know best. We are helping people and animals, not just animals.”
Their office was affected by the blast and their cats were hurt. The team immediately split in two, with half of them going out to rescue lost and hurt animals while the rest stayed at the office to take care of the injured cats.
On being asked about the state of stray animals in Beirut, Maggie says that they are also picking up stray animals from streets that have been injured and arranging food on location for those who survived the blast.
Maggie talks about how troubled she is when she goes to bed and thinks “Oh, we should have stayed one more hour. Maybe there’s one more cat stuck under the rubble. I don’t know how long they will survive under the rubble without food and water. We are maximizing our efforts and more people are going to the ground every day.”
On what keeps her going, she says: “If you see the reunion with their owner, this is like a boost for us. Every day we see how happy people are. It’s so rewarding to see this that we saved a life and made them happy in these terrible times.”
If you want to donate, The Last Animals Foundation started a GoFundMe for Animals Lebanon.