After a nearly three-hour scooter journey over the steep, hilly roads of Bogor, Indonesia, Muslihudin Sharbinie arrived at the clinic, the veterinarian had some dismal words for him.
The cat he had brought all that way – the stray he found just after being hit by a car – wasn’t going to make it. It would be too expensive to even try to save her life. Better to let her go.
But Sharbinie, who goes by Uli, had words of his own for the veterinarian.
“My friends will pay for this,” Uli told the vet. “We will save her.”
Those friends live thousands of miles away – in the U.S., Germany and the UK. Uli calls them his angels. They, too, have a name for him: The Gandhi of Bogor.
Uli’s Angels helped him save numerous cats in his community through crowdfunding, providing them with much-needed medicine, arranging for spaying and neutering, and, in this cat’s instance, covering the cost of surgery that would save her life.
Uli could do nothing more than feed and make herbal medicines for the cats he found before they became engaged. However, they were frequently severely hurt or ill.
As the cat population grew, some residents began to regard cats as a nuisance. Many people were poisoned and died as a result. Kittens were abandoned in the streets, some orphaned before they were even able to open their eyes.
Uli, who remembers his great grandparents’ fondness for stray cats, would strive to save as many as he could.
He says The Dodo, “There is no one else here in my region who can help them.” “Their lives are in our hands. They don’t have a choice in the matter. However, we do.”
Uli, a married father of five with three jobs, couldn’t do it on his own.
“The difficulty in my region was the enormous increase in the number of stray cats,” he explains. “A newborn infant could not grow into an adult due to a lack of care – to offer treatment when they are unwell.”
He then discovered his angels.
Uli’s Facebook page was discovered by Kristen Connelly, who resides in Oxnard, California, in 2014.
She tells The Dodo, “He has such an extraordinary passion in cats.” “And I realized that I really need to get to know this individual.”
So she added him as a buddy. Connelly then inquired if there was anything she could do to assist him.
Connelly networked with other animal lovers – Daniela Langer, Trish Delahaye, and Cher Callaway.
“The four of us, we decided, no matter what we do, we’re going to do everything we can for Uli,” Connelly says.
They started a GofundMe account for his cat-saving crusade.
Soon, they raised enough money to schedule visits from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network to spay and neuter the village cats.
“When he saw we were assisting him and that he didn’t have to send them away or just drop off a piece of fish and some rice in one of the local markets,” Connelly recounts, “we encouraged him to bring them home.”
Uli, on the other hand, who constructed a school from the ground up in his hamlet, didn’t require assistance in creating a safe haven for them.
He scavenged local landfills for fences and lumber, eventually erecting a multistory cat metropolis with welcome signs and brightly painted cats. The refuge served as a lifeline for ill and starving animals.
“Strays will seek him out,” Connelly predicts. “And a lot of people are just looking for medication, food, or a place to sleep for a bit.”
Uli’s kindness would spread like wildfire.
Connelly explains, “His neighbors are no longer actually dumping cats in the waste yards and at the schools.” “They’re bringing them to him,” says the narrator.
Some even offered to assist Uli in his ever-expanding refuge.
Connelly responds, “He’s not paying them any money.” “They’re just there to help because they’ve also turned into cat people.”
And the village, which was formerly seen as a dangerous area for cats, has become a key haven for them.
“They deserve to have a better life,” Uli says
But even Uli admits it takes more than a village to raise a cat. Sometimes, it takes a few angels.
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