We often get asked what a normal day at the Nowzad clinic in Kabul is like.
Being the only clinic and shelter of its kind in the whole of Afghanistan, there is no typical day… but here our Director Hannah describes what life is like there, thanks to your support.
Life at the Nowzad clinic starts early - very early.
The first Call to Prayer of the day, which takes place just before sunrise (usually around 5am) is the morning alarm for the 40 or so dogs who reside at the Nowzad clinic and compound.
Our residents then subsequently take it upon themselves to notify the rest of the compound (and almost certainly our entire neighbourhood) with a crescendo of howling to accompany the local Mu'azzin.
Not long after this, the first employee of the day arrives Juma. The hardest working man in Kabul, if not the world, Juma is tasked with cleaning the clinic, cat rooms and dog runs, as well as feeding all the animals. Not only this, Juma is an excellent handyman, and if there is something to be fixed or made, Juma will turn his hand to it better than anyone in the trade could.
Juma’s working day is officially 7am – 4pm. However, without fail he is hard at work every day by 6.30am if not earlier. If I could clone Juma, I would 100 times!
Basir, who also has the same job role as Juma, arrives at 7am. Again, he is employed until 4pm, but it is not unusual to see him hard at work at 5.30pm in the evening. In addition to his everyday tasks, Basir is the most expert dog catcher you will ever meet.
Every single dog absolutely loves him and Basir regularly forms a special bond with a rescue or two (his favourite is currently Senator, who’s story you can find in this newsletter!) in addition to being the resident dog whisperer Basir is an excellent dancer at our staff parties…. But that’s another story…
The compound soon fills with the smell of chicken cooking (not too dissimilar to a Roast dinner you’d have on a Sunday). Making your way into the kitchen you will find our Khala Zakia, usually singing and always cheerful. ‘Khala’ translates to ‘aunt’ and that is exactly what Zakia is to all our staff and our rescue animals. When she is not cooking for the dogs in our care (a mixture of rice, carrots, chicken, potato and dog kibble if we’re lucky) she is cleaning the house singing at the top of her lungs… or teaching our rescues BJ and Tin Tin to give her their paw.
Our Veterinary Team bundle into Najwa’s (our In-Country Manager, who many of our staff have described as ‘the heart’ of Nowzad in Afghanistan) office at 8am sharp for their morning meeting. Here they plan out their day as best they can – with unexpected arrivals and rescues it is near impossible to anticipate how the day will unfold.
Shortly after, our driver Mirwais will take one of our Veterinarians to go and visit the Nowzad Shelter and Donkey Sanctuary to give a full check up on all 120 of our dogs there and 7 donkeys, as well as liaising with our shelter and sanctuary staff to ensure all is well.
The morning is then filled with various activities, whether it’s Afghan clients bringing their animals to the clinic, runs to military camps to pick up the newest soldier rescue, or Veterinary Training for Kabul University; the Nowzad compound is a hive of activity.
At 12pm it’s my favourite time of day – lunch! Our wonderful cook Qaisi Gul (her name translates to Apricot Flower) who is required under Afghan labour law, is truly is the most talented chef on the face of this earth… this may be down to the copious amount of oil and salt that she adds to all her dishes… either way, her rice, stews and even chips, are the most delicious thing you’ll ever eat. Our staff seem to agree as every lunchtime the room is filled with laughter and chatter as they devour her cuisine and wash it down with sugary green tea to fuel themselves for the rest of the day.
Post lunch there is another meeting, which tends to be held in Farid’s office. Farid is our Finance/HR/Admin Officer and is worth his weight in gold with how hard he works and how determined he is to improve the lives of the animals of Afghanistan, although it is rare that he works ‘hands on’ with the animals, his passion for helping them is as strong as anyone’s.
With their bellies full of lunch, the dogs in our care tend to quieten down and doze off in the afternoon, especially if the Afghan sun is beaming down on their runs – although this does not seem to have the same lulling effect for any rescue puppies in our care, their energy is beyond measure and thankfully there is always enough pups to entertain each other, with the odd gruff bark from one of our resident oldies to teach them some manners when required!
We often get asked about the ongoing troubles in Kabul, but life at Nowzad goes on regardless… it has to.
Whilst in Kabul I have been awoken to the sounds of nearby bomb blasts. Sadly there is always a loss of life.
Every single member of staff turns up for work come heavy snow, terrorist attacks or extreme heat. Dr Hamida’s commute alone is an hour and a half each way every day, yet she is never late for work and always arrives with a smile on her face.
Although our staff are deeply affected by the troubles around them, they know just how vital their roles are for the animals, and people, of Afghanistan who desperately need them.
Their dedication to strive does not falter one iota from the time they arrive at the Nowzad gates to the time they leave… and sometimes even after that.
Once all the duties are done, all the animals are clean, fed and happy and any new arrivals are seen to, the Nowzad gates close for the day.
Our Head Veterinarian, Dr Mujtaba stays on site in case of any overnight needs or emergencies and the animals are checked on throughout the night.
I truly wish I could bring each and every person who has generously donated to Nowzad to our clinic in Kabul to proudly and gratefully show the tangible difference your involvement makes and the positive environment that has been created for not only the animals, but for the people who care for them so greatly too.
This is a place where miracles happen for animals every day in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Just under my bedroom window there is a run where many of our new arrivals are housed.
Some have been abused, many have been badly injured, all are in desperate need of our help. Sometimes in the dead of night and when I have my window open, I can hear the contented snoring of these rescued dogs, the twitching, sighing and kicking of the odd water bowl in their sleep.
Their pain, hurt and suffering gently taken away by our team and replaced with love, care and the hope of a loving forever home.
In these moments, I can’t help but think to myself ‘Where would they be if it were not for Nowzad?’