Diana Darke, author, Middle East cultural expert, Arabist, BBC broadcaster and journalist, introduces her new book, The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo. The book recounts Alaa Aljaleel’s remarkable actions, who, speaking only Arabic told Diana his story via a hundred podcasts that he sent in reply to her questions.
When war came to Alaa Aljaleel’s hometown, he made a remarkable decision to stay behind, caring for the people and animals caught in the crossfire. While thousands were forced to flee, Alaa spent his days carrying out perilous rescue missions in his makeshift ambulance and building a sanctuary for the city’s abandoned cats.
In turn, he created something unique: a place of tranquility for children living through the bombardment and a glimmer of hope for those watching in horror around the world. As word of Alaa’s courage and dedication spread, the kindness of strangers enabled him to feed thousands of local families and save hundreds of animals. But with the city under siege, time was running out for the last sanctuary in Aleppo and Alaa was about to face his biggest challenge yet…
This is the first memoir about the war in Syria from a civilian who remains there to this day, providing both a shocking insider account as well as an inspiring tale about how one person’s actions can make a difference against all odds.