“Volunteering is important because it helps you discover what you care about – and you know it’s from the heart because you aren’t getting money out of it,” Naser Al-Mutawa says over a cup of coffee, taking time out of his full schedule to chat with us. On top of being a local university student and working for his dad’s company, he spends his time volunteering with PAWs, one of Kuwait’s local animal saving nonprofit organizations. “I’ve always loved animals. When I was a kid, I would go to my grandmother’s house and see the older members of my family feeding the street cats, so I guess the compassion for animals stemmed from my childhood.” But volunteering with animals isn’t always as pleasant. “What you see when volunteering is definitely the most challenging part, but you have to accept the situations for what they are and take action.”
One of the more common situations is the mistreatment and trafficking of animals in the Friday Market. Animals are crammed into small cages, while dead birds are left on the ground, and dogs are tied to trees, abandoned by former owners. Volunteers weekly frequent the Friday market, and have been optimistic that their presence and attention to the animals have been improving conditions. And slowly but surely, Naser, along with other volunteers, have noticed differences being made in the atmosphere of the Friday Market. The area is a little cleaner, and cats and dogs are being kept away from the sun. But it could be better. “The next step is regulation, keeping tabs on what animals go where and to whom.” Naser explains. This way, when people buy animals from the Friday market, it won’t be a hit-or-miss situation where said purchased animal won’t end up abused or abandoned. Naser also advises peaceful population control would better the situation. “Always neuter/spay your pets! People’s pets have babies and they hand them out like presents because they can’t keep them. These pets often end up on the street and add to the overpopulation issue.”
What can you do if you’re interested in volunteering? Contact an organization. Everyone is a valuable asset, and you can take charge of your own hours – whether you’re doing it once a week or even once a month. If you can’t handle the horrors you may be exposed to, donations are an equally welcomed alternative. All organizations settle their veterinary bills through donations, and donations also leave room for supplies for the animals in need at various shelters. “The most effective way of being involved is word-of-mouth,” says Naser. “This is how we find out which animals are in need, and how we find homes for them.”
truth or dare
How would your mother describe you in one word?
How would you describe your mother in one word?
What is the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?
(In the States, because I’m Kuwaiti) “Do you have a Ferrari and exotic animals?”
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Buying a three-day ticket to Coachella before even asking if anyone wanted to go with me. Music comes first I suppose.
What is your theme song?
Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy.”
What word in the English or Arabic language do you wish you had invented?
Where would you like to live? What is your dream retirement location?
I’ve always loved the fast-paced lifestyle of NYC. As for retirement, my mind is just blank when I think about it.
What is the first famous quote that comes to your mind?
“If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
What animal best describes the kind of partner you’d be interested in?
An owl. I’m not a morning person and neither are they.
What do you miss about your childhood?
I miss going to the toy store with my Eid money and feeling an adrenaline rush as soon as I walk-in the store.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Kanye, definitely Kanye.
How would you describe your handshake in one word?
What is the toughest part of your character?
I love a routine, but also reach a point where I need to switch it up.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
What in the world do you least desire?
Ignorance, or being too comfortable.
What do you think is lacking in the world, which if there was more of would make the world a better place?
If someone is doing good, just let them do it.
Why do you think most girls/guys like you?
I’m easygoing I guess. If you mess up my order at Hardee’s, I’ll eat whatever you ordered for me anyway.
Finish this sentence: “Happiness is a thing called…?”
Self awareness and self acceptance.