They say we don’t really know where animals go after they die, but if they do go to Heaven, they will certainly welcome this one woman with open paws.
Maria Fatima, affectionately known as ‘Mafat’, is a resident of Alto Guimaraes, Altinho – Panjim. She is someone who has devoted her entire life to helping every animal she comes across. Her story, which is being highlighted on World Animal Welfare Day, is long overdue.
To the animals in and around Panjim, she is nothing short of a blessing in disguise. A tailor by profession, Maria spent the last 20 years feeding and sheltering stray dogs in and around her locality and tending to them when they are unwell.
Maria recalls that when the Covid-19 pandemic struck Goa, she took a bus to Panjim and fed the stray dogs in the Panjim Market and Dona-Paula! Having no transport and ignoring her personal safety, she put the lives of the hungry and helpless before her own.
She does not splurge on anything for herself, but rather spends almost every penny of her savings on her animals and their well-being. Be it medicines, sacks of rice, doctors' appointments or even just some cute doggy collars, her love and generosity know no bounds.
Vacations take a back seat in Maria’s calendar just so she can stay home to cook for her dogs. However, her little trips to the vet with her pets in a rickshaw make up for it. We asked Maria to tell us what drives her to go to such lengths for her animals, and she replied, “I feel sorry for them, and I empathise with them.”
Like most animal lovers, Maria has also faced criticism and hardship, but nothing stops her from showering these otherwise neglected animals with love, kindness and compassion. Everything in her life revolves around her dogs, and she, without a doubt, is their answer to a wish upon a shooting star.
She is loved and followed by her army of dogs, no matter where she goes. Reflecting on her story, we must consider that it is very easy to fawn over and shower a bucketful of love on animals for a day or two. But the resilience and consistency to stay committed to her passion for animals is what sets Maria apart.
In today's cruel world, where dogs are being hanged, beaten and abused amidst a hundred cases of animal cruelty, stories of people like Maria Fatima are inspiring and admirable, and show us how we can all save each other, one life at a time.