A few months ago, I received an email that I just couldn’t turn away from. It came from a woman on the tiny island of Amorgos, Greece. She’d just come home from making her rounds to feed some 80 stray cats, under the constant criticism of passers-by who don’t embrace care for the cats despite the fact that all have been spayed and neutered.
Lamia still had to get her own rescued dogs walked and fed and then get to bed before leaving for her teaching job early again the next day. In between, she was trying to plan for her mother’s 80th birthday party and a trip to Cairo to visit her sister who is gravely ill and going through chemotherapy. Like so many, Lamia is exhausted by day’s end, and a small part of her is losing hope. Yet she braced herself for yet another rejection as she sent a short email to me.
“I feel desperate out here in this isolated place where animals seem to have no rights whatsoever,” said Lamia Enan who is of Egyptian descent but born in the United Kingdom. “I have been living here for the past 20 years, rescuing as many neglected or abandoned dogs as possible with a handful of other volunteers. We offer food, veterinary care, adoption with the help of a Dutch organization and we’re caring for a huge population of stray cats. I have read through Care2 about your amazing work and wondered if you might be able to help us out. ”
“Right now, we need to find a space for the dogs in our care, because we’re losing the small area we have been using to protect them,” she continued. “We cannot afford a shelter, but we are in desperate need of practical help.We would appreciate any help you can provide us as it is a permanent struggle to keep these desperate creatures protected.” (you can click each photo below to see it larger)
Let Me Find a Way …
The hard part is that the Harmony Fund functions like any other rescue group. Each week brings another wave of crises, another series of situations in which rescuers urgently need help, and the need greatly outweighs our capacity and our bank account. So, I asked Lamia to please be patient with me as I tried to find an opportunity to help and as I needed an opportunity to learn more about her work.
Over the past few months, I’ve been both touched and saddened by what I’ve seen. By the many street animals who turn to Lamia for care. By the neglected dogs in her neighborhood who turn to her to feed them when their own families do not. By the ridicule and disregard thrown at her by others in her community who harbor much darker feelings toward animals.
Just today, Lamia was sharing footage of a paralyzed cat she has helped. Due to spinal damage, this curious young tortie named Lydia was left without the use of her lower half, and in a place where even the healthiest and most beautiful cats have a hard time finding a loving home, there was no one who would embrace the mission of giving this cat a life. Yet Lamia did. She began visiting veterinarians, four of them in total, with the hopes that someone could offer a cure for Lydia. But in the end, they all said the same. The condition is irreversible.
“Lydia accepted her disability well, but come March, I could no longer see her dragging herself on the floor of the cat nursing home, a rented place where we keep cats in cages for treatment when sick or after op care,” Lamia explained. “She started developing wounds on her back paws from the friction. Looking on the internet, I saw it is possible to make a cat mobile and after long research, found a company in UK called Dogmobile who made wheels for disabled dogs and small breeds but who were willing to make a walking frame made to measure for poor Lydia.”
Lydia With Her New Wheels
While Lydia the cat now has some mobility, she does not have a home. She remains in the ‘nursing home’ as she is incontinent and her chances of adoption seem so thin. Lamia and the other volunteers visit her twice daily, giving her time to roll about and have some companionship, but their ultimate hope is that she will somehow find a home as she spends far too much time in a cage between their visits.
Breathing New Life Into This Volunteer Effort
Though Lamia has hoped to expand her aid to animals on the island, she recently lost her job, like so many victims of the financial crisis here in Greece, and now the challenge of caring for these survivors is harder than ever. As they say, when it rains, it pours.
Since we got our start exactly two years ago, the Harmony Fund has always represented volunteers like Lamia who feel as though they’re swimming in an ocean with one very serious undertow. They don’t have money. They don’t have a proper shelter. They don’t have public support. But they do have a plan, a vision and a sense of compassion that knows no bounds. Today we’re reaching out to help Lamia and other volunteers in Greece in the midst of our week-long campaign to gather support for their incredible work. Donations will help secure a better foster care center for rescued animals and to cover the year-round costs of dog and cat food, spay/neuter and veterinary medicines. Click here if you’d like to send your support, to these amazing animal rescue volunteers in Greece.