Thursday, April 01, 2021

Promoting local artist in Kuwait

 Someone asked me recently about where to get a painting of Kuwait by a local artist (not necessarily a Kuwaiti artist).  Well, here ya go....

Touch of Hope Kuwait Animal Shelter Needs Your Help!

 Please SHARE this everywhere:

Touch of Hope is an animal shelter in Kuwait. (Instagram @ touch_of_hope_q8) run completely off donations and volunteers. People think, "Why help Kuwait? It is a rich country. They should take care of their own animals." Well, ZERO money is allocated to the welfare of animals in Kuwait by their government and pets are often dumped, neglected, and abused (I'm not going to be graphic, but it is BAD and it happens often). ToH works with Wings of Love Kuwait (a Baltimore-based shelter) (Instagram @ wingsoflovekuwait) to bring pets to the US to rehome. (Both run off separate entity donations.)  Check out their accounts for photos and videos of their amazing work.

Touch of Hope Kuwait animal shelter is being evicted and is in urgent need of aid! They've found a new place to create a shelter, but it needs a LOT of work and Kuwait summer (think 120F!) is quickly approaching. Any help is greatly appreciated! $5/$10 - anything will help. 


A large number of rescued dogs, cats, and a horse have lost their home after an eviction notice was served at the farm in Kuwait that serves as their sanctuary.  Can you help these helpless souls?

An amazing woman named Marlene has dedicated her life to the injured, abused, and abandoned animals of Kuwait.  For years she and her elderly mother have been renting a rundown farm in the desert, just so she has room for her many rescued animals.  She works around the clock, in very challenging conditions, and receives no official funding or support.  Nevertheless, Marlene puts a positive spin on her life.  She calls her animal rescue effort Touch of Hope.  With love and tender care she rehabilitates her rescues and prepares them to be adopted into loving, permanent homes.

But tough times for Marlene and her mom just seem to always get tougher.  Due to budget cuts at her company, Marlene lost her job.  Her old car overheated and caught fire on a dusty desert road and was damaged beyond repair.  The pandemic has made things even more difficult.  Huge numbers of house pets are being dumped on the street, and with many new rescues, Marlene's pet food and vet bills have skyrocketed.  Despite all this, she never closes her eyes or her heart to an animal in need.  It has only been by borrowing money and with limited help through fundraising and donations from some local animal-lovers that Marlene manages to continue caring for the animals and giving them a touch of hope.

On August 6, 2020, Marlene received tragic news from her family in her native Lebanon.  Her home, located near the port of Beirut, was completely destroyed in the devastating explosions.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get worse, Marlene received a notice for IMMEDIATE EVICTION from her Kuwaiti landlord.  She frantically began searching for another farm.  Options are extremely limited and she was forced to rent a place that is badly in need of work.  At least $20,000 is needed in order to make it secure and habitable.

Please help.  ANY donation, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated.  We can't let these animals down, they have already suffered enough!  TOGETHER we can make a difference and enable Touch of Hope to continue its vital mission.

Please share this campaign with all your contacts.  Thank you for caring and God bless you.

For more information please see: Instagram @touch_of_hope_q8

Monday, February 15, 2021

Yo, Expat! Are you staying or going?

Mark at 2:48AM blog has a very interesting post recently (  He is thinking of leaving Kuwait.  I think many lifelong or long-term expats have either left by now or are battling with themselves on whether to stay or leave.  In Mark's case, he was born in Kuwait and his mother and father were in Kuwait long before that.  

His post inspired me to write this post.

It is a hard decision.  I think it is harder when you wallow in an uncomfortable situation; not feeling happy and somewhat apprehentious about what may happen when  you leave. Or where you will go.  Or what kind of a job you will find.  And you can't have the same things as you have had in Kuwait (like a maid or cheap healthcare and insurance).  And where you go:  paying taxes, paying for air for tires using a credit card at the gas station, vet bills in the thousands....etc, etc. (More of that for future posts.) 

Kind of like a bad romance.  You've been with that person for a very long time.  You know you should go (and your departure will be inevitable someday), but the constancy of it leaves you in limbo.  You are comfortable in your discontent somehow.  Kind of paralized in it all.

How many more expats are going through the same thing?  Is it just the pandemic that is making it so bad?  Or at least you tell yourself that.  But really - it was getting uncomfortable even before. The pandemic has just made it really hard with people losing jobs or having their salaries cut so it pushes the decision to stay or go to the forefront.   

Disclaimer:  Don't get me wrong.  I still love Kuwait (and God knows how much I miss the country and my friends and adopted Kuwaiti families)  but the country has changed a lot since I initially washed up on it's shores in 1993.  (I moved to Kuwait in 1996.)


I wrote a post about the reasons I would leave Kuwait - back in October of 2017.  I left Kuwait (physically) in December of 2017, to work remotely from the US with travel to the UAE and other places when requested.   I was back and forth between Kuwait and the US after that; and just before the pandemic hit hard in early 2020.  I am so grateful that I moved house out of Kuwait when I did.  Perfect timing.

Sidebar:  Seriously, how many of us can just work remotely just using e-mail?  I mean, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that working remotely works.  Case in point:  I was working on a contract recently and thought that the woman was in Kuwait (I was calling her Kuwait number).  We got to talking and she told me that she is actually in Georgia.  I said, "Girl!  Give me your number, I'm in Virginia!"  Another associate turned out to be working from London while I was calling him on a Kuwaiti number.  Another, two towns away from me in Virginia.


I went through the process of getting quotes from shipping companies for my household goods and car to actually doing it - shipping it all.  I had a whopping seven suitcases I would take back with me on the plane, plus the cat and the dog.  The logistics!!   I downsized a LOT.  I couldn't stand the thought of  selling my things to bargain-hangry buyers, so my process was, "Things I love to people I love."  My friends came over and post-it-noted their names on things they wanted.   The purge continued for 2 months - and I still ended up with a 40' container back to the US.   (I wish I had taken more of some things and I equally wish I had purged more of others.)  The ship takes 2 months to arrive with the container, so I brought lots of clothes in check-in luggage.

Only my really close friends knew that I was leaving "for good."  I had lunch with the man who basically brought me to Kuwait the first time in 1993.  He asked me why I was leaving and I told him that I was no longer comfortable living there.  I felt unwelcomed (in general - as an expat).  That I was feeling more doom and gloom than joy and contentment.  And.... I didn't like the expat-bashing trend; especially by members of parliament and government; those with a short memory of the events that transpired in 90/91.  The kind of people who forget their friends.  His response was, "Oh, but they don't mean Americans or Brits...."  I believe the word "expat" is all-encompassing of foreigners in Kuwait, so when a politician calls Expats, "bacteria," I take offense to it.

A million times over the years I was asked, "Are you planning to leave Kuwait someday?"  My response was, "Whenever I decide it is time to go."  

Time to go...

Time to be with my family.  Time to buy property that is in my name with a huge yard so that my dog has a real understanding of grass and playtime.  Time to pay into my eventual retirement. Time to breathe in clean air and be surrounded by trees and green and birds (and in my neighborhood - foxes and deer and skunks and bald eagles).  A different kind of natural beauty where people don't litter or pollute (at least where I live).  

A lot has happened since I've been away (even though I came back to Virginia every summer on annual leave).  My nephew has grown into a man with his own daughter, home and business.  My mom has aged and counts on me to help her.  Some of the friends that I had have died.  Others have just moved on with their lives; marriages, children, divorces.  Oh and the time that I spent on summer vacations from Kuwait that I always spent visiting my family has turned into reeeeally nice family travel vacations together.  

I'm going to write a separate post(s) about the transition and my reverse culture shock.  And of course, the things I miss in Kuwait.  It has been a journey.  How do I feel now, three years (I can't believe it!) later:  Content.  Grounded. Secure. 

Why am I posting this now?  Well, inspiration from Mark's post and it's follow-on comments by expats for one.  I have been in discussions with friends still in limbo in Kuwait wondering if they should leave.  I know many expats are weighing the decision, so maybe this will get them thinking.  Or maybe they'll get some comfort in knowing that they're not alone.  A little support perhaps.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Donate to help Stray Animals in Kuwait

Expats are leaving Kuwait in droves.  And unfortunately, many feel that they have no other alternative (they do!) than to dump their pets.  Shelters are overwhelmed.  Many people find animals and want to help.

Give Hope Club works with Touch of Hope Rescue and is an easy way to help the many rescued animals at Touch of Hope during this crisis. Pay your monthly membership through a link in your phone and you'll also be eligible to win great prizes in the monthly lucky draw.

Choose from one of these memberships:

 -Silver (10 KD monthly)

-Gold (20 KD monthly)

-Platinum (30 KD monthly)

-Diamond (40 KD monthly)

 Then send a what's app message to +965 99835252 with your full name & type of membership and we will send you the payment link. Please share this widely and help the helpless!


Touch of Hope works with Wings of Love Kuwait in Baltimore to fly animals out of Kuwait to homes in the US.  Please help if you can.  Any amount makes a big difference.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

I Banish You: Reflections on Kuwait

 This is a very interesting article written by a Kuwaiti woman about the current situation in the country.


I Banish You: Reflections on Kuwait

We remain in the midst of a global pandemic. This public health disaster has cracked open fault lines that have threatened Kuwait for decades. At the start I clung to a sliver hope that the crisis might trigger radical transformation. What it has done instead is confirm that we are no longer on the road to failure. We are already there.

My rage over this brings to mind Coriolanus. The fifth century BCE general fearlessly saves Rome from the Volsces, only to have the plebeians turn on him. He refuses to give in to their demands, seeing them as a threat to the sovereignty of Rome. Coriolanus has always been an ambivalent figure. Is he a noble warrior and anti-populist banished by ungrateful citizens for telling it like it is? Or an arrogant proto-fascist punished for his disdain of the common people? I’m no judge. What draws me to Coriolanus in this moment, as I witness my nation fall, is the purity of his fury, which precisely mirrors mine.

In Shakespeare’s play, the tribunes banish Coriolanus for refusing to humble himself. In response to his punishment he declares, “I banish you.” A tirade follows in which he reprimands the people for their lack of foresight, ignorance, indecision, falling prey to rumors, and becoming their own worst enemies. He predicts that Rome, left defenseless, will be overcome by a stronger nation, as the weak often are — as Kuwait once was.

I am as livid as Coriolanus about the state of my nation. This pandemic has highlighted our utter ineptitude, even as we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. For years I have written lamenting lost opportunities in this country once poised to become a paradise on earth. A few have been willing to do what it would take to realize Kuwait’s potential. One by one, their hope has been snuffed out. Without hope there is no future. The most dedicated continue to work selflessly without any sense of legacy. The loyal and industrious are disdained, the lazy and corrupt honored — all signs of a decadent state.

How are we failing? Let’s start with Kuwait’s handling of the pandemic. At first it appeared authorities were acting prudently, but their moment of glory fizzled out. A porous partial curfew allowed 40,000 Kuwaitis to be repatriated, accelerating contagion. By the time a three-week lockdown was in place — over two months after the first case was recorded — cases were already skyrocketing. Kuwait’s “full” lockdown included two hours to go outside for exercise without social distancing enforced, making a mockery of it. Two months after lifting the full lockdown, Kuwait’s positivity rate hovers at around 20%. Unable or unwilling to comprehend relevant data, Kuwaitis celebrate the lockdown’s great success. The first day it was lifted, cars lined up around several blocks to pull into drive-throughs at Starbucks and McDonald’s, illuminating the citizenry’s priorities.

The pandemic has also laid bare and intensified the racism structuring everyday life in Kuwait. Racism is entrenched, yet most citizens believe they are good Muslims, treating everyone with humanity. Examples of racism range from our mishandling of the bidoun — the so-called stateless Kuwaitis our government refuses to legalize — to our treatment of non-citizen residents, many of whom are victims of the corrupt kefala(sponsorship) system.

The kefala system was criticized in the early days of the pandemic, when the inhumane living conditions of migrant laborers were identified as contributing to its spread; but five months on, the system remains intact. Kefalalegalizes de facto slavery. Hiring involves negotiating a price with the current sponsor as well as the agent who legally brought the indentured person into the country. Both agent and sponsor collect money in exchange for a human body. A state that legalizes any form of slavery is a morally bankrupt state. Citizens who profit from this moral bankruptcy and do nothing to stop it are themselves morally bankrupt.

Instead of terminating the kefala system once and for all, members of parliament and prominent citizens began calling for non-Kuwaitis to be tossed out and for the public and private sectors to be magically Kuwaitized. The demographic imbalance between 30 percent citizens and 70 percent non-citizen residents is nothing new, but it has been long ignored by the 30 percent it benefits. The migrants themselves have been viciously blamed for this imbalance, as if they materialized out of thin air. The migrants have nothing to do with it. Agents and citizens acquiring and selling sponsorships could not do so without the approval of Kuwaiti officials in high places. Period.

The response of authorities to the migrant labor community during the pandemic was to barricade their residential areas with barbed wire for months, allowing those inside to mix freely. These communities were not asked whether they wanted to participate in this risky herd immunity experiment. To date, Kuwaiti areas with the highest number of cases have not been barricaded. Photos of food lines inside barricaded areas evoked the Great Depression; meanwhile, on the first day malls reopened, citizens lined up at Rolex and Louis Vuitton.

From oil rig operators, construction workers, and stevedores to garbage collectors, delivery drivers, and domestic labor, most non-citizen residents perform jobs Kuwaitis never would. It’s one thing to announce that Kuwait’s demographic must flip overnight, but unless Kuwaitis decide to do the work of running a country and a home for themselves, assertions won’t make it so. Kuwaitis should work as janitors or taxi drivers because all work is honorable and because these are the jobs some of them are best qualified to do. In a meritocracy, people get the jobs they deserve. In a declining state, people are paid to do nothing, while incompetent individuals are given jobs they are unable to carry out. This money for nothing scheme may benefit the individual in the short term, but over time it culminates in national collapse.

Another sign of failure uncovered by the pandemic is just how much of Kuwait’s social fabric is threaded with self-entitlement, intransigence, and corruption. Kuwaitis consistently flout the rules of social distancing and mask wearing. No two meters apart or masks when they exercise, making it dangerous to share public spaces. No two meters apart in supermarkets or lines, threatening those who want to survive. No two meters apart for public officials at meetings photographed for newspapers, setting a stellar example. Kuwaitis have used supermarket and hospital curfew passes to visit friends. They have partied at their beach chalets, diwaniyas (male gatherings), and farms. Most Kuwaitis don’t care about their obligation to the greater community, to protect the elderly, the vulnerable, and those putting their lives on the line. From cradle to grave, they have been conditioned to care only about their own convenience; wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance requires too much effort. That it may save their own lives matters less than maintaining their right to do as they damn well please.

We witness this ethically corrupt behavior even as we learn more about the fleecing of the national pension fund by its former head. Over $500 million stolen. Some of that money was my father’s, a physician who worked in the public health sector and at the public university for over half a century, contributing to that fund with the sweat of his brow. Some of it was mine, having paid into it for the last 26 years and counting. That crooked head of the pension fund — like his non-mask-wearing compatriots — has no regard for the greater good. Without a broad sense of responsibility and justice, a society falls apart at the seams. We are at this juncture.

What about education? I teach English and comparative literature at Kuwait University. All faculty and administration have been given paid rest from March until August. Five months without any form of online teaching for around 40,000 university students at the only public university in the country. All private universities and most private schools shifted to online teaching within weeks of closure. Not Kuwait University. Not the government school system. The argument made by authorities was that e-learning standards couldn’t possibly match in-person education and that professors and students wouldn’t be able to cope with the sudden shift online. That our current circumstances are exceptional, that the shift would last only as long as the pandemic, that we should at least give it a try, didn’t register. Our high standards had to be maintained, even at the cost of wasted salaries and wasted young minds.

This lack of logic didn’t start with the pandemic. The pandemic merely sharpens the writing on the wall: the government system of education in Kuwait has failed. For decades, countless reports have been written and submitted by institutions and individuals, local and international alike. These collect dust in neglected drawers, and nothing changes. A dumb populace, lacking the skills to think critically, maintains the corrupt status quo. Even if education shifts online, the quality of education itself will not have changed. No amount of technology can gild an archaic program. We are where we are today because of our substandard curriculum, trapped by our inability to think ourselves out of a paper bag.

What’s true of education applies also to healthcare. So far the healthcare system has not collapsed in the face of COVID-19. However, even after five months of curfew, doctors are still advising us to avoid hospitals whenever possible. A friend’s chemotherapy cycle was cancelled because the hospital has run out of the necessary medicines, endangering his prognosis; another friend’s auto-immune medication is no longer available, leaving her in chronic pain. The fear that my sick father might require an emergency visit to a hospital keeps me up at night. Even in the best circumstances, Kuwait’s healthcare system is frustrating to navigate, with a mix of excellent doctors among truly incompetent ones. How long even this frayed status can be maintained is hard to gauge. Given that the majority of doctors who work in the public healthcare system, as well as all of the nursing staff, support staff, and most technicians are non-Kuwaiti, what will happen if plans now rumbling among parliamentarians to reduce the non-Kuwaiti population by 40 percent are actualized? The pandemic is not over. The way rules are defied in Kuwait, there is no doubt we will see a second wave and a third, if we ever emerge out from under this first one. Without non-Kuwaiti healthcare workers and with the added pressure of rising COVID-19 patients, the system will shatter.

Economically the situation in Kuwait is dire, thanks not only to the pandemic, but to a lack of decisive action before it, combined with zero responsiveness during it, and heightened like never before by the shock to oil prices and the global economy brought on by it. As with the educational and healthcare systems, what needs to be done to remedy the economic crisis has been evident for years, from diversifying the oil economy to reducing unproductive public spending. Kuwait must take on public debt for growth investment; if it doesn’t, it will be bankrupt within five to seven years. There has been no sign that the government is willing to overhaul the system. Over the course of this pandemic, the government’s feeble response to the needs of small private businesses, the rental market, and labor are clear indicators that our economy is heading for a crash. Most Kuwaitis remain in denial about this result and its repercussions. Given that on August 1, 1990, few believed Iraq would invade, our capacity to assess future outcomes is, put mildly, low.

As with many other places on earth, the pandemic provided a brief respite for our environment. Now that curfews have been mostly lifted, we’re back where we started. Oil production, incineration, and unregulated motor vehicle emissions color our skies yellow, brown, and gray. Kuwait, one of the world’s smallest countries, is one of the highest per capita waste generators, just as we now have one of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases per million in the world, the lowest productivity rate in the world, and one of the highest diabetes and dementia rates in the world. Numbers to be proud of. Our coral reefs have been dying for decades; our waters and shores are thick with plastic; our fish have become toxic. Rising rates of cancer and other environmental diseases change nothing. The government and parliament can’t be bothered to exert the effort and investment required to tackle climate change since their citizens don’t care. After the lockdown was lifted, photos circulated of shorelines blanketed with plastic bottles, bags, and containers, abandoned by thousands of visitors to the country’s beaches. They consider it beneath their dignity to clean up after themselves, expecting Bangladeshi cleaners to pick up after them. That couldn’t happen, given that most of those cleaners were trapped behind barbed wire, under threat of deportation, so the mess was swept into a ravaged sea.

Like the nobles and tribunes Coriolanus scorned, Kuwait’s authorities have led the country to ruin. Like the oblivious citizens of ancient Rome, we have allowed them to do it. Racism and slavery, self-entitlement and corruption, education and healthcare in crisis, economy and environment on the brink — any one of these could bring down a nation-state. All of them together at once spells the end. This is where Kuwait stands today, without the leadership or a population intellectually and emotionally equipped to admit to the magnitude of the disaster, let alone to commit to its remedy.

Coriolanus turns away from Rome. “There is a world elsewhere,” Shakespeare’s version claims, but he is wrong. We are the worlds we make. Coriolanus could not let go, held back by hubris and a sense of pietas. He raged against Rome and its ignorant citizens to the point of war. Whether idealistic or misguided doesn’t matter; he came to a bad end.

I’ve learned his lesson. My rage serves no purpose. I write with the knowledge that my words are futile, that my love for Kuwait will remain forever unrequited. “There is infinite hope in the universe,” Kafka said, “but not for us.” So I choose to let go, despite fear and regret.

We deserve what comes next.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Why I haven't posted in a while

Usual excuse:  I've been busy.  This time, very busy.

I should be keeping up more, but I am between places all the time.  I got a promotion at the company I work for and it includes taking on projects in different countries for our business owner - who I adore. I got so lucky working for his company and I am grateful to him every single day.  Literally.  I've worked for him for ten years now.   So, I am back and forth between Kuwait, Dubai and the US. Super thankful to be working and have a job.

I also work with my sister at her company while I'm in the US doing government work.  Again, couldn't ask for a better business owner.  I'm truly blessed on both continents - Mashallah.  Her business here is considered essential, so I am at the office every day.  Quarantine rules are somewhat relaxed in Virginia compared to other places - especially Kuwait.

I am truly blessed to have the life I have. 

Every expat would like to believe that they will stay in Kuwait forever, but that's just not realistic.  Even if you are married to a Kuwaiti, at some point, you are going to want the security of something in  your home country.  So I bought a lovely little house (maybe not so little, but lovely) near my family in Virginia.  I have a garden and everything is green and beautiful.  It is 15 minutes from mom, my sister, and my nephews homes.  My neighbors literally welcomed me with open arms (ran across the street to hug me). 

My house is close to the airport and a short trip back and forth to Kuwait (you get used to it).  My vacations used to be going to the States to see my family.  Now they are vacations together outside the US (Turks & Caicos is our favorite).

I don't have to worry about being noisy or having noisy neighbors.  It is a very quiet neighborhood and everyone takes care of each other.  One of my elderly neighbors passed away shortly after I bought my house.  She was a dear woman and I wish I had had more time with her.  Her husband, probably pushing 80 now, is equally as kind and I bring him home made pies and food once in a while.  I think he is lost without her after 60 years of marriage.

My neighborhood (Mishref) in Kuwait is not on lock down other than the country-wide curfew.  I think I made the right choice there being in a predominantly Kuwaiti neighborhood.  Again, a place where neighbors take care of each other.  I can't imagine not having Kuwaiti friends through this pandemic and feel a degree of pity for expats who have made the choice not to.  The amount of concern I've had from Kuwaiti friends is overwhelming and heart-warming.

Right now, through the pandemic, I'm in the US.  And super happy about that.  I was supposed to be back in Kuwait right now, but I stayed in Virginia to see what was happening.  Thank God.  My mother has been self-quarantined in her home for six weeks now.  I buy her groceries and go to talk to her on her steps.  There is a farmers market close to where she lives, so I can buy farm products and plants at an open-air barn.  Everyone is planting things to keep busy.  I'll have a jungle in a few years. 

Our biggest issue in Virginia with the pandemic is so trivial:  Lack of toilet paper.  Not that I should care because I had bidet hoses installed in every bathroom in my house.  My family and friends laughed at me, but who is laughing now?  I finally found a place that sells TP to businesses, so I bought a case of 96 rolls and I'm a very popular girl now.

I am missing machboos a LOT. 

I will try to post more often.  Thanks to those of you out there still reading - and who sent me messages asking how I am.  I'm still here. :)  I hope that all of you are well and safe and healthy. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Things I have learned

  • I'm not Jesus.  I don't have to forgive you for doing bad things to me and I don't have to forget.
  • I'm not here to give you an up.  Or help you get back together with your wife.  Or help you get married to someone else and not me.  That's your job (refer to the first sentence above).
  • I don't have to reward you for shitty behavior.
  • There's more to life than money.  How about integrity?

(Yes, venting.)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Who is to blame for slaughter of stray dogs in Kuwait?

Arab Times, Kuwait, 8/29/19

A video clip of two men with what appears to be a dead mother dog and a BAG FULL of live puppies has circulated over social media in Kuwait.  According to today's article in the Arab Times (re-featured from Al-Anba daily newspaper in Kuwait), the Kuwaiti Government's Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) hired expats to kill strays.

PAAFR is responsible for strays in the country.

Stray dogs have been poisoned for months in Kuwait and rumors have cirulated as to who is to blame.

According to one Kuwaiti animal rescue group, since this article was posted today, PAAFR has denied any responsibility for hiring contract mercenaries to inhumanely kill the stray dogs in the country. 

I hate seeing this in the news and in social media.  I pray that the Government of Kuwait will care for it's international reputation and start a humane stray control program as in other contries.  Or at the very least, look into who is responsible for these unmerciful acts and stop them.

Poison and torture of strays should not be condoned in any civilized nation.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Justice for Winston: Import of Pets to Kuwait Often Ends in Tragedy

This is a re-post for a GoFundMe account.  Please see details below. 

Laila had been studying in Washington, DC, USA and was moving back to Kuwait with her two year old cat, Winston. She made sure to bring his completed paperwork (USDA IHC) from his veterinarian that stated he was healthy and approved for travel. Winston was with her at all times in the comfort of the cabin of the Lufthansa flight and not in the cargo.

When Laila landed in Kuwait, she went through customs smoothly and picked up all her bags from the baggage claim area until an airport customs officer stopped her and told her that she had to leave Winston at the airport so that he could get checked by the airport vet, as per legal requirements for every animal entering the country (despite USDA approval). They promised he would be delivered to her at the cargo terminal in 2 hours. She spent some time trying to convince them to not take him away from her and showed him all the paperwork proving he was healthy, but they wouldn't budge and said that this was the procedure for every animal that arrives the country.

She stayed at National Aviation Services (NAS) in the cargo terminal, for 3 hours until she was informed that Winston was missing. According to NAS, Winston escaped from his carrier after leaving customs to go to the “vet”; he jumped out of the transportation trolley, and ran away around the cargo area/landing zone. She knew how afraid Winston was of strangers, and the only person he was comfortable with was herself. Laila also knew what type of places he would likely hide in. She begged them to let her go to the area he escaped to but they refused, saying only people from NAS and civil aviation had access to the area.

Laila spent two nights and half a day begging managers and officials at the airport to let her through but they all refused. She was told that she would get security camera footage and that employees were searching for him, but all she got was empty promises. She even printed and distributed flyers throughout the NAS facility, with pictures of Winston and including a monetary reward for anyone that found him. After 3 days of trying to get through, Laila was informed by NAS that Winston was found dead from heatstroke. Laila retrieved Winston's body after 4 hours of waiting at the NAS’ facility.

Throughout this horrifying journey, Laila had discovered a smelly, dirty, and cramped hall where they kept “live animals” with no air conditioning in 114 F degree weather. In one of the rooms, she found Winston’s dumped pet carrier, even though she was told that they were using the carrier to lure Winston inside. She also met with the “vet” at NAS, who claimed that he has not had an animal come to his office in YEARS.

Winston was not the first pet to runaway and/or die in NAS’ facility according to several rescues and pet travelers. Laila is currently meeting with a lawyer with plans to sue NAS and obtain #JusticeForWinston and all the other animals that died under NAS' care.

Laila is an animal rescuer. She has been to several rescue seminars, interned at a well known rescue in Washington DC, and has fostered several kittens. She wants to save as many Kuwaiti animals' lives as she can in Winston’s name, under the “Winston Memorial Foundation”, but will need funds to do so.

This Go Fund Me campaign will not only help pay for legal fees in suing NAS, but also allow her to set up a foundation in Winston's honor so that no other Kuwaiti pets and pet parents go through what she endured. Further, Laila will continue the push for the implementation of animal right laws in Kuwait which is an ongoing issue that has not yet been resolved. This would raise awareness regarding the neglect and poor treatment of animals in Kuwait whether they are stray or handled and kenneled at NAS.

Please donate to our campaign to remember Winston, and to ensure no Kuwaiti animal ever dies in vain again. Thank you! With a heavy heart at the loss of Winston, we are seeking $15,000 to proceed with her mission and to seek #JusticeForWinston. Thank you, to all the animal lovers throughout the world, to all who follow Leila on Instagram @leya_and_winston and to all those who know that animals are worthy of being treated with respect and love.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Beware Importing a Pet to Kuwait

RIP Beautiful Winston

You may have heard the story by now of a Kuwaiti woman (@leya_and_winston) who brought her cat back to Kuwait from study in the States - in the cabin - only to have the cargo company (NAS - National Aviation Services) responsible for checking animals "loose" the cat and later find it dead?

Im fucking crying my ass off while i type this. Winston is missing. When we arrived Kuwait the officer stopped us at the airport and told us we needed to get a paper signed to get winston in kuwait (even though i showed him all the correct paperwork specifying winston is healthy and up to date in all his shots, ect). Since they are too lazy to accept the documents they made me sign a paper. As i picked up winston’s bag they stopped me and told me that he needs to go see a doctor at the airport to make sure hes not carrying any diseases and apparently thats what happens to all animals that arrive the country. I fought with them and begged them not to take him but the officers said those were the rules.

I waited for 3 hours and in the end they told me that he fucking ran away in the cargo on the way to the doctor. He ran away out in the open where all the planes and trucks are. Ive been crying screaming and hysterical ever since and im not authorized to go search for him. We begged the guards to let us in and we were able to scout the area but i wasnt allowed to leave the car. It’s currently 95 degrees and will continue to get hotter to 114 degrees . I am so devastated and destroyed. I dont know what else to say. I am charging my phone and will be back at the airport in a few hours. If you are in kuwait and can help please let me know. They wont even let me SEARCH FOR MY OWN CAT please if anyone has authority and can help please let me know this cat is my entire life please help me.

The cargo company, National Aviation Services posted this:

We regret the unfortunate turn of events with Winston.
We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Laila and her family during this difficult time.
We are very sorry for their loss.
We are conducting an in-depth internal investigation into the matter.
People will be held accountable.
We will also be putting in place more stringent procedures under “FOSTER” rules to ensure this does not happen again.
To ensure higher safety standards for each animal in our care, we are creating a $100,000 fun – “Foster” towards improvement of animal care facilities at the airport.
We carefully handled over 700 household pets last year without incident. We understand that each animal is unique and precious.

 Apparently there has been a law implemented in Kuwait that if you import an animal to Kuwait, it must be taken to the cargo section (where there is no AC in 50c heat) to be checked by a Kuwaiti vet. Usually the wait time is 3 hours from what I hear. 

One of my readers sent me this:

"They MUST change how they treat pets in the cargo terminal!!
The new rule is sooooo stupid, how they force taking your pet from you when it travels in the cabin with you and take it to the cargo terminal to see the vet!
This is such BS and so unnecessary!!!
If the vet needs to check a pet, I think they should come to the main terminal to check the pet!
Every pet that comes in is healthy and has all of its shots or the airlines would not allow them to get on the flight!
People bringing in pets must also have an import permit.
In order to get the import permit you have to have proof that the cat is in good medical condition!"

A recommendation from an animal group in Kuwait (translated from Arabic - sorry):

1.       If you travel from Kuwait to any second country with your pick-up or bring you both inside the cabin or under the plane in a private animal cabin, make sure your papers are complete and meet all the requirements and conditions of travel To the country they're looking for.

2.       they bought a suitable size cage so that the animal can turn its breath and wear it with comfort and for those who stop its head do not hit the roof of the cage.

3.       make sure that the cage you are wearing is the type that is intoxicating in screws from every direction and the door is strong.

4.       Buy Cable ties in family supplies colors and sizes or ace hardware ace hardware they took the size to your cage.

5.       some cages are ready with holes from the sides and open the door other than of course the openings to mascara in screws you can put in the wire bond more protection for the cage or you can put additional holes in the cage via dere or the way I always follow it no N I don't have dere hottest precious on the air and press tricks the place where I fix the hole in the cage and with the heat I melt the plastic and be I have a suitable hole whether if the cage has holes or I need additional holes of course the cage orbit with ties The wires are in the house and to whom you deliver the airport after you have completed all the travel papers and procedures before they take the flying cage, lock the door from all sides in the wire links.

6.       Be at the airport three hours before the travel date so that you and the staff of the airport will be easily and without rush to you and the airport staff.

7.       if the aviation officer asks you to see the animal of you, be there and with him you open the cage with yourself and you are possessed by the animal and you enter it and screw the door is fair.

8.       the best to stay after you complete all the procedures and wait with your live at the flight counter to the last time to enter the plane you can tell the flight staff that you will not be waiting for the animal cage now you are waiting for me the last time to sit outside the plane for a while Especially long since Jonah has mercy and usually the staff are understanding and cooperative in this respect.

9.       when they take the cage from you take it down so that I go to the plane reached the transport employee and and it is fair to take care of the animal justice and what I offer to anyone i can hurt (normal workers or people put the cage with animals or Insist on them or open the door from the anchoring is necessary to lock the door in the wire links because it only opens in scissors) and also above that you have the worker give him a reserve to take care of justice.

My advice:  Unless you absolutely HAVE to (as in Leila's case), never import an animal to Kuwait.  Never never never.  And if you need further confirmation of this, refer to my last post on animal poisoning.

Dog Poisoning in Kuwait

Dogs are being poisoned in Kuwait in the name of pest control.   Strays are being taken to a location in Hawalli  fed rat poisoning and left on the floor to die in torture.  This is according to several sources who have stated that a private agricultural company has been contracted to round up the strays and kill them.  This is a country-wide initiative.

Dogs should not be considered pests.  

I don’t understand how a country with no division of “church and state” (meaning laws are tied to religion) that so many people including lawmakers don’t know their own religion.  The Quran is very clear on compassion to animals.  The hypocrisy is baffling.  Why torture animals in the name of “pest control”?  ALL the prophets kept dogs and were kind to them!  Man took parts of religion and threw away the rest to suit his own purposes.  To me, that is blasphemy.

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ عَنْ سُمَيٍّ مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرٍ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ:

‎بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ يَمْشِي بِطَرِيقٍ اشْتَدَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَطَشُ فَوَجَدَ بِئْرًا فَنَزَلَ فِيهَا فَشَرِبَ ثُمَّ خَرَجَ فَإِذَا كَلْبٌ يَلْهَثُ يَأْكُلُ الثَّرَى مِنْ الْعَطَشِ 

‎فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ: 
‎« لَقَدْ بَلَغَ هَذَا الْكَلْبَ مِنْ الْعَطَشِ مِثْلُ الَّذِي كَانَ بَلَغَ بِي » 
‎فَنَزَلَ الْبِئْرَ فَمَلَأَ خُفَّهُ ثُمَّ أَمْسَكَهُ بِفِيهِ فَسَقَى الْكَلْبَ 
‎فَشَكَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ فَغَفَرَ لَهُ .

‎قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ لَنَا فِي الْبَهَائِمِ أَجْرًا فَقَالَ نَعَمْ فِي كُلِّ ذَاتِ كَبِدٍ رَطْبَةٍ أَجْرٌ
‎صحيح البخاري 2323 / صحيح مسلم 2244

Information on the animal poisoning in Kuwait: petion HERE

Article on protest HERE

Instagram @paws_kuwait