Helping out others is no doubt a noble task. When it comes to rescuing and fostering the stray and abandoned animals, it can be a stress buster and morale boosting activity. For many people it is a two-way process; they help the animals and it helps them back.
Yusra Diab, a Sudanese expatriate in Qatar, has been spending most of her time and money to take care of more than a hundred cats and over a dozen dogs. For her, it all started to keep herself busy but now it has become a part and parcel of her life.
Yusra Diab calls the rescued animals her treasure
recently got in touch with Yusra and interviewed her about why and how she has been taking care of stray animals in large numbers. Yusra, who has been in Qatar since 1995, has an MA in Education and Democracy from the University of Leeds. “I specialise in human rights and civics education. I worked as a lecturer at the University of Bahrain and as a consultant and project manager for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Qatar. I am currently managing director at a private medical center in Muaither.”
Yusra Diab lives with over 100 cats in her house
The passion for abandoned animals sparked with Yusra as late as 2017 after she spent a year in UK for psychological therapy because she was suffering from depression. “I came back to Qatar and had no job and I had no interest in looking for one or making friends or even leaving the house. I saw a call for fostering three tiny kittens, which were in bad shape. I offered to take them in. I took care of them until two of them were able to fly to be adopted in the US.”
This experience is the reason that she started going out and rescuing cats and dogs in need of help. “Whether they were under threat of being thrown out or they were going to be dumped by irresponsible owners, I saw the need to take them in, keep them safe, and find them homes.”
The animal rescuer has been finding it hard to finance her benevolent activities. “While I sheltered the cats in my parents’ home, I had to put the dogs in a shelter and a paid boarding until a foster or forever homes were found.
“In January 2019, I decided to move out because my parents were becoming very uncomfortable with the number of cats I had in the house and my obsession with them. I ultimately took in the dogs I rescued because I was no longer able to financially cover the boarding expenses. My home became the sanctuary where I live with my rescued animals – currently 14 dogs and around 100 plus cats. I called it ‘Sora’s Rescue Treasury’ because every animal I rescued, fostered, and rehomed is like my own. They are my treasure and I want people to see them as such.”
The rescuer works very hard to provide for the animals. “Between my own income, contributions and a very large debt dipping into one of my parent’s money, I managed to stay afloat and on the down low. Now with Covid-19, the situation is quite dire and it is a day by day fight to survive.”
Rescuing and rehoming street and abandoned animals is the best thing Yusra thinks she has ever done in her life. “Despite the challenges, the reward is indescribable. Knowing that I saved the life of a voiceless being has definitely given meaning to my life, when I had given up on everything. I have lost a lot choosing to work with animals, but the way I see it: I saved lives and that’s my purpose.”
The animal lover encourages public to learn more about the rescue community and what they do. “Rescuers work on a different level with animals. I encourage the public to learn more about the rescue community and what they do. They need to think about how they can help animals and the rescue community; not about how rescuers and shelters can help them.
“People need to start looking at animals as equal shareholders of this planet. I say it every time: live and let live. The stray animals of Qatar are docile and they never attack unless they feel threatened. You don’t have to be an animal lover to be kind to them. There are many ways to show kindness.”
Yusra’s life revolves around her rescues. “I have no social life anymore and I spend very little time with my family – mainly on Fridays. My working hours are flexible so I get to choose when to get into work as long as I do my hours. The rest of the time, I am either with my rescues, at the vet or sorting out a cat or a dog to or from a foster, and when I can, I help out other rescuers with rescuing, sheltering, rehoming and paperwork. Whether the rescue is mine or someone else’s, they all deserve a chance.”
She added: “It is exhausting and it is draining but I do not have an ounce of regret in my mind about what I am doing. All I wish for is to be able to financially secure myself to make sure my rescues get the best of everything, especially medical care. They are our family; so the thought of letting them go – in a positive or negative sense – is unthinkable.”