Hallo, warm-hearted viewers, and welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. On today’s program, the first in a two-part series, we’ll visit the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan and the non-profit organization the Humane Center for Animal Welfare, which promotes “kindness and humane behavior towards animals.”

The group, which was established in 2000, achieves this goal by rehabilitating and sheltering injured wildlife, providing free veterinary care to animals with economically disadvantaged caregivers, conducting informational programs, performing animal rescue work and supporting animal-welfare legislation. The Center opened a veterinary hospital in 2007, the first of its kind in Jordan. Margaret Ledger and Nadia Hamam, co-founders of the Humane Center for Animal Welfare, explain how it all started.

We started from a simple plot of land that we own. And here we are now; in six years’ time able to help the community in different ways of services for them. We are divided in two main sections. The first is the veterinary section, and we treat them all for free. The second thing is our education program, which Nadia runs and takes care of.

Actually, the educational program is very important to solve all the problems of the animals. And another objective of the educational program is to plant a seed in the students’ minds, how to become humane people with everything around them, with other humans, with the environment, with everything in society, in the world.

Teach them compassion, respect for life. And we think this is very, very important.

It is the most successful, educational program in Jordan. And the students, they are responding very well to the teachers. So it is a wonderful program.

There was a nice agreement with the Ministry of Education. And we formed animal clubs in the government schools all over the Kingdom (of Jordan). And we concentrated on boys and girls from ages nine to 17. So it’s moving along very nicely. And we formed the Jordanian Day for Animal Welfare. This is the fifth year in Jordan to really celebrate in April, a Jordanian Day for Animal Welfare.

What changes are seen in students after participating in the program?

A lot of the students are coming to our Center to treat their animals. So yes, there are a lot of results now. And there is respect for the animals.

In addition to operating the animal hospital and providing informational programs in Jordan’s schools, The Humane Center for Animal Welfare encourages the government to protect the rights and lives of animals through legislation.

We are working with the government now, the municipality, the different ministries on putting regulations, laws on, for example, the zoos, the pet shops, the breeders. We’re working on it. So there’s a lot happening in licensing with the municipality. We have fantastic programs with the municipality of Amman, and things are moving along. Pet shops, we’re doing now some regulations, circuses, and the zoos. So we get a lot of support from the government. And now it's just working out very nicely. And we thank the municipality and thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and other government departments that are really helping out.

And we’re working a lot and very well with our member society, which is called the World Society for Protection of Animals in England. And they were the ones to fund half of this hospital. And the other half was funded by the Ministry of Planning in Jordan. So it's going on very well.

The Humane Center for Animal Welfare also offers animal-therapy programs for children with special needs.

So we have programs for abused children, we have for the mentally handicapped, physically handicapped, orphanage children.

We have different programs: the deaf and the dumb and the blind children. They come in for beautiful animal therapy and you can see the difference. And we’ve got lots of pictures around here that shows part of the program that we do. And some art is behind us. And you can see all this has happened in our Center.

The Center staff also performs animal rescues. One animal saved was a donkey trapped in a cave.

So we had to get a nice rescue team of about 10 people to be able to get a huge donkey out of that cave. And which we did and it was right up on the top of a mountain, (we) had to bring him down a very steep hill, that was one of the things.

A horse fell into a well and that well was nearly four meters deep.

And I’m glad the water, I mean it was the end of the summer and the water was probably about 1.5 meters depth. And that was just the water reaching his neck. We had to call the civil defense. They helped us out a lot. And I think in two hours’ time we were able to rescue the horse. We receive a lot of calls where cats get into the drains and behind walls and stuff like that which we need to rescue them and we do it. Yes. We’re called and immediately and go. Yes.

The Humane Center for Animal Welfare receives support from citizens, the government and especially Jordan’s royal family. In February 2006, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan attended a ceremony celebrating the laying of their veterinary hospital’s foundation stone, and also graced its official opening in March 2007.

I thank the Royal Family for all the support, the mental support and the moral support they give us, everything. Her Majesty started with the idea of having a park for educating children and learning through fun, and this is how it all started. So the idea started growing, and then we had discussions and meetings, because education is very important. And this is how it started growing.

The government gave us all this land, which is about 20,000 square meters. And we had a couple of meetings. The government supported part of it. The other part was from the World Society for Protection of Animals. And then we started establishing this place.

I thank very much (Her Royal Highness) Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein for supporting the veterinary project fully. She’s just taking care of the project to keep it going. And she gets us a lot of veterinarians to train our veterinarians in Jordan, and really supporting this place in many different ways. So I do thank the Royal Family for all their support.

What makes Margaret Ledger and Nadia Hamam feel so deeply committed to protecting animals?

I think animals, they’re full of feeling. And, they’re just speechless. And we must really understand their needs. And they are God’s creatures, just like anybody else. They have rights on this Earth. And it’s our responsibility, really, to be taking care of them. As human beings, we have a big responsibility towards them. They cannot speak, they cannot explain, but there is something in their eyes that we see. And we have to respect this.

And if you respect them, I think we respect God for what He created for us. So I don't think the world would look very nice without all these lovely creatures around us, whether they’re flying in the sky or crawling on the ground or under the sea. They're just beautiful. And they complete our life. It's just we believe in this strongly.

All religious and spiritual traditions advocate treating animals with utmost love and care. The Humane Center for Animal Welfare is bringing Jordanians and animals closer together through the ageless wisdom of spiritual texts.

I think all the holy books in this world mention about kindness to animals. And if you are a good religious person, I think you should follow all this. And I believe there should be respect for them. I think in the Qur’an, in the Islamic religion it says that animals are a miracle. And I believe in this. And there’s lovely talk about it in the Qur’an; kindness to animals and respect for them.

And Nadia, agrees with this idea because we’ve got a couple of sayings now hanging in different places in the equine hospital. It’s sayings from the Qur’an about animals and respect to them and so on. Compassion and respect for life. This is also what Nadia teaches to the young little ones when she goes for her lectures in the schools.

Actually, we talk a lot about the religion and the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, how he was dealing with animals. And with all this evidence, it is easy to convince the students to make it like examples in their life. So this is how we are concentrating with them. And we talk about it. It is ethics. How you deal with animals is how you behave with other people. So it is your ethics.

Bravo, Margaret Ledger and Nadia Hamam, for your high-minded beliefs, your diligent work and especially your establishment of the Humane Center for Animal Welfare in Jordan. May the lives of the beautiful animals of Jordan continue to be touched by your kindness and consideration for them.

For more information on the Humane Center for Animal Welfare, please visit: www.HCAW-Jordan.com

Gentle viewers, thank you for your company today on our program. Please join us again tomorrow on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants, when we’ll meet some of the donkey, horse, dog, and cat patients at the Center’s hospital, as well as the loving staff members who care for them. May all beings on Earth be forever respected and loved.