Happy news – the love story of Yafa and Eleonora

El Yafa Hugging

When our volunteers go on a mission, they meet animals in all sorts of heartbreaking situations. And yes, we’d love to take all of them home and give them the love and affection they so desperately need. But that is not realistic, of course; we always need to be conscious not to get too attached to the animals we help, no matter how difficult that is sometimes. But then Yafa came along, and for Eleonora, it was love at first sight.

It started with a rescue mission

Last November, a team of Animal Heroes went to the West Bank on a rescue mission. Since October 7th, the situation for animals in the West Bank had quickly deteriorated. 25,000 stray dogs and cats were starving because tourism had stopped completely, which was devastating for everyone on the West Bank: people and animals. Also, there was a lot of cruelty against stray animals, with people throwing bricks at them, kicking them, and even poisoning them.

Diana: Yafa's first mama and a true animal hero

During their mission, the team visited the only  animal shelter on the West Bank that is a registered foundation, the Bethlehem Animal Shelter, run by our local Animal Hero Diana Babish. Diana quit her job as a bank director to rescue and take care of stray animals in the West Bank. In her shelter, she has 100 dogs. Every day, Diana goes onto the streets to feed stray dogs and cats. When they are injured, she takes them to the vet for medical
care. And despite the difficult circumstances, she still manages to arrange adoptions for these animals.

Diana with Yafa April 2024

Meeting Yafa

When our team visited Diana, Eleonora stepped out of the car, and they immediately went to the kennels. In one of the kennels, there were three dogs: two of them came to greet Eleonora and the team, but a puppy of about six months old was in the back of the kennel, on her bed, in the dark. She was clearly the lowest-ranking member of the pack, very timid and scared. After a while, she hesitantly came over to greet the team. But, impressed by the other dogs, she quickly withdrew and went back to her bed in the back of the kennel. Eleonora looked her in the eye and felt so sad for her.

Eleonora asked Diana about Yafa, what was her story? Yafa was found by Diana on the streets. She was a very tiny pup going through the garbage in search of something to eat. Diana took her in, and since then, she’d lived in the Bethlehem Animal Shelter.

On the right: Yafa in November 2023

Eleonora in love without realising it (yet)

Eleonora and the rest of the team of Animal Heroes spent the week after rescuing and taking care of a huge amount of hungry and injured animals. Some of their stories are truly heartbreaking. But somehow Eleonora couldn’t forget about Yafa, so when visiting Diana’s shelter for the second time that week, she went back to look for Yafa. The same thing happened as during the first time they had met. Yafa did want to say hello but was simply too timid and scared. Again, Eleonora felt for her. Probably by that time she had already fallen in love but didn’t realise it yet. And both Yafa and Eleonora also didn’t realise what was about to happen months later.

Back to home and work

After the mission in the West Bank, Eleonora went back home to Italy and her work as a pilot and her work as a volunteer for the Animal Heroes foundation – a busy life. But she couldn’t forget about Yafa. The holiday season passed, and still, she couldn’t forget her. She told herself that as a mission worker, you must restrain yourself from wanting to adopt the animals you rescue. But still, she couldn’t forget about Yafa. In our contacts with Diana, it was always Eleonora asking about Yafa. And finally, Eleonora gave in and accepted the inevitable: she had fallen in love.

Yafa and Eleonora on the beach in Tel Aviv – just before they depart to Italy

Reunited and moving on to a happy life!

This week, a team of Animal Heroes volunteers went back to the West Bank on a mission to help feed the stray animals, arrange medical care, and start an educational program for children to raise awareness of how to treat animals and stop violence against animals.

And Yafa and Eleonora have been reunited! Eleonora will take Yafa back home to Italy to meet her other dog, Aisha, and to live in the beautiful mountains of the Dolomites. Yafa is about to start the second chapter of her young life that started so difficult, and this chapter is going to be a very happy one!

Yafa and Eleonora meeting again after 4 months

Written by Mony de Roos

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