Written By: Yassine Harouchi & Charin Winker

When I rescued my first cat, my heart spoke to me. I knew that I had stumbled into a mission.

As I look around my home, I see the furry silhouettes of the cats I’ve rescued. The same is true at two other apartments and the vet’s office. As of today, I have more than 50 cats and 1 dog under my care across multiple spaces to ensure they are all safe and comfortable. I know that most people would assume I chose to start a rescue. That was never my intention, though.

Born in France and raised in Morocco, I lived in the United States as a student, before declining a job sponsorship to return to Morocco to work on a business idea I conceived while I was in the United States. My passion was sincere, and I was working hard. Unfortunately, I connected with someone whose intentions turned out to be less than pure. By the time I realized who this person really was, he had defrauded me of more money than I could afford to lose.

In the aftermath of the scam, my father helped me out, encouraging me and giving me a small stipend of $220 monthly, so that I could take my time figuring out my next steps. On February 1st, 2018, I rescued my first cat. I’ll never forget that fateful day. When I rescued my first cat, my heart spoke to me. I knew that I had stumbled into a mission.

Because of my circumstances and because of the cat’s needs, that first rescue was a tough one. The challenges prepared me well for those ahead. The work wasn’t easy, though it was satisfying. To spread love and happiness, by saving a life, I felt uplifted. One cat led to another and to another and another. Cat after cat, I became more skilled at what I was doing, but it quickly became clear to me that the workload would be never-ending. In Morocco, there are so many cats wandering every street and down every alley, that it’s impossible to rescue them all.

As is so often the case for rescuers, especially those operating in high-need areas like Morocco, dedication to my mission came with immense sacrifice. Because there are so many cats at my makeshift rescue, their care requires ten, twelve, fourteen, or even more hours every day and I have invested nearly everything I earn towards their food and medical care. In addition to my parent’s home, where my rescue cats occupy a room, I have rented two apartments and occupy space at the vet to provide ample shelter. With so many cats in need, the weight of this task has compounded.

Yet, I need to do what I can. I constantly find cats in critical situations, and I am compelled to do my part to help. Without my intervention, the cats who share my home would have remained on those same streets, their futures uncertain, their next meal never guaranteed. To my core, I yearn to make a difference in these cats’ lives. I want them to feel safe and comfortable. Above all else, I want them to feel loved. I cannot rest while there are so many cats out there who are in need. At least, I cannot rest until I have adopted out the cats who currently share my home.

My initial strategy for my rescues was to adopt them out to homes in Morocco. However, because financial circumstances are so often tight in Morocco, I haven’t found many local people willing to adopt any cats at all. As a result, the number of cats under my care has accumulated. With local options exhausted, I expanded my reach to North America and Europe, and it was only then that I started to get some traction.

This opportunity quickly presented a new challenge: there are no pet relocation service providers based in Morocco. The only feasible way to adopt my rescue cats to new homes in North America and Europe is to cover the travel expenses for both the cats’ and their transporters’. Therefore, to fulfill my mission of getting my rescue cats into homes where they can live long, comfortable, happy lives, I am launching a campaign to raise funds to organize an air-rescue operation.

An air-rescue operation is no small feat and to achieve it I need to connect with more people. I am recruiting American, Canadian, and European families for adoption, welcoming partners and donors to help raise funds to cover all the travel expenses, and searching for volunteers to onboard and safely transport the rescues to their new homes. In addition to being spayed/neutered, all rescues have been vaccinated and have all the necessary blood work to be eligible to travel to the US, Canada, and some of them to Europe. This mission has been more than four years in the making, and my objective is to have all of the cats at my rescue adopted to loving homes by April 2023. This goal is a lofty one, but I am confident that with the help of cat lovers near and far, I can get there.

Rescuing these cats has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I have connected with dozens of these animals, forging relationships with each and every one of them. I have seen how they look to me – relying on me to keep them healthy, to keep them comfortable, to keep them alive. Whenever the exhaustion and the stress becomes overwhelming, I look into the faces of my rescues, and they remind me why I am doing what I was doing. I have dedicated myself to rescuing these cats, and will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure that they wind up with families who will look after them and care for them for the rest of their lives.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I appreciate all your support! Together, we can bring more compassion to the world – every day!

For those interested in supporting the air rescue mission, please follow the link below to donate:

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