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Our Inspirational Cat Lady
By Nikki Lardas 26-Nov-14
Kuwait has a conflicted relationship with animals. This results in a poorly kept zoo, many pets living caged in the garage, and lots of wandering cats. At our school, we have a cat lady. I shall call her “Andrea,” for that is her name. Andrea has made it her mission in life here to take care of as many cats as humanly possible. She gathers the cats she can catch, takes them to the vet, has them neutered or spayed, gets them their shots, and tries to find homes for as many as she can. Andrea also feeds and waters the cats, raises money for the local animal shelters, and takes students on field trips to volunteer at said shelters. In this effort, she spends lots of her own hard-earned money. Whenever we hear “Ms. Andrea, please report to the office...” we can all guess the cause of her summons—a cat is sick, a stray was found, kittens were born, or the kibbles need replenishing. Our principal, who just left us for greener pastures, was her biggest supporter. When the new principal was being interviewed, we are told the issue of cats was raised; fortunately, it turns out that she, too, is a cat person. Work is under way to devise a means of eliciting regular teacher donations. Meanwhile, Andrea the cat lady continues to more or less single-handedly take care of our world of cats. There are many ways to make a difference, wherever you may be. One of our teachers volunteered with a local group that collected clothing and other supplies for the poor, then asked for volunteers to help sort the donated items. Other members of our community coach athletics teams, volunteer at the orphanage, organize fund drives for the cleaning staff who are having babies, and help clean up the beachfront. The locals take notice. They see that we are not just here in their country for the money and the travel, that we actually care about our host communities. As teachers, our kids see it, too. Andrea is making a difference not only in the lives of the pets she saves, but in those of our students, just by doing what she loves. No matter how good a math teacher she is—and she is very, very good—the example she sets by being Cat Lady is far more important. She is showing her students, by example, that being a good, caring person is just as important as learning the Pythagorean Theorem. Wherever you may be, you too can have a positive impact. Choose something you are passionate about. Find a way to matter.
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