You might have noticed my Facebook status and tweets from today and Sunday. I seem to be going on about something called NOWZAD. Maybe you have clicked the link and read a little bit about what NOWZAD is, and why they need help right now. Maybe you haven't had the time to. I understand. There is a lot going on in our lives, and it is hard to have time for everything. Please spare two minutes now?
I can't remember when or how NOZAD hit my radar. Was it last year? Maybe the year before? I honestly can't remember. But what I can remember is how I felt when I heard about this animal shelter in Afghanistan that not only takes in stray animals they hope to home to Afghani families, but also helps Western military personnel save the stray cats and dogs they fall in love with whilst on their tour of duty in Afghanistan. When I read about this crazy little charity for animals set up in the middle of a war zone, I cried. I still do.
Befriending stray animals whilst on active service in Afghanistan is against the rules. It's black and white. You are not allowed to do it. But... people still do. And a blind eye is turned to it. But what starts out as a seemingly innocent reciprocal arrangement between a human and a critter frequently turns into something more. Whilst I don't understand war, or even why people join the military to fight and maybe die in them, I do understand what happens when a human and an animal bond. And I do understand the powerful need inside of us when we realise we can't leave that animal behind. When we realise we can't live without them. When we realise they need us, and that we need them.
And when this can still happen in an environment where humans are fighting and killing each other, then I have hope.
NOWZAD have had their current land in Afghanistan for some years, but they have lost the lease on the land, and there is nothing they can do about it. They have built a temporary shelter, but they can only have that land for three months. The answer is to buy their own land and build a permanent shelter. If they can't raise the money to do that, then the 90 odd cats and dogs currently living in the shelter will be homeless. I have not asked what will actually happen to these animals in this worst-case scenario because I do not want to know the answer.