Everywhere in the world, we can observe and be touched by acts of kindness. People from all walks of life, faiths, and cultures extend themselves beyond the call of duty to help others unconditionally. Through their noble deeds, humanity as a whole is elevated.

To commend virtuous actions and encourage more people to be inspired by their examples, Supreme Master Ching Hai has lovingly created a series of awards, including the Shining World Leadership Award, Shining World Compassion Award, Shining World Hero and Heroine Awards, Shining World Honesty Award, Shining World Protection Award, Shining World Intelligence Award, and Shining World Inventor Award, to recognize some of the most exemplary, generous, caring, and courageous people who walk amongst us.

In Israel and Palestine, the UK-based animal welfare organization Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land spreads love and peace by offering care and service to donkeys, mules and horses. Since its founding in 2000, Safe Haven has rescued and nursed back to health over a thousand donkeys along with other animals.

The group also runs a free mobile vet clinic and outreach program to inform children and adults about the need to treat animals with kindness. Safe Haven’s founder and Field Director, Ms. Lucy Fensom, describes her earliest encounter with a donkey and her desire to care for him.

I’ve always been an animal lover, first and foremost. And as way back, I think as young as maybe six or seven years old, I remember on holiday in Italy, I had my first encounter with a donkey. I remember seeing him tied up on a very short rope without food or water. I remember wanting to be with him and give him the apple that I had on our picnic and take him a bucket of water.

Then as a young adult in 1989, Ms. Fensom traveled to Israel, purchased a severely wounded donkey, saved his life and found him a loving home.

And "Donk," really as I named him, he was my first rescue, really was my inspiration. I just felt it was really a sign for me that one day I would return to Israel and set up a sanctuary for donkeys in the Holy Land.

In 2000, Lucy Fensom quit her job at British Airways to devote all her time to rescuing donkeys. Over the past decade, this humble, but unique lifesaving enterprise has developed with miracles along the way. Today the sanctuary, located on just over one and a half hectares of farmland in MoshavGanYoshiyya, Israel, near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, shelters 150 residents.

We’ve got one mule in particular, Christopher, a beautiful brown mule. He belonged to a Palestinian man that used to frequently bring this mule to our clinics. On one particular day, he called us from Tulkarem, not far from where we are, and he said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, my mule’s got some sort of a problem. He doesn’t want to work, he won’t eat. And we said, “Please don’t leave him, wait with him until we get there.”

When we got there, he’d gone, and we put this mule onto our horsebox and drove him to one of our other small rest stations. And our vet Pierre started to check the mule and as he touched one part of his body, under the spine on the back, literally everything just fell away. The skin, the muscle, all the tissues, everything just fell. It just disintegrated before your eyes, revealing his ribs and part of his spine. And of course, we could not believe it, we were in absolute shock, all of us were.

It was an abscess. It probably had burst inside him and just drained all internally, the pus, and had caused this awful infection and everything to rot. But this mule showed such immense courage and to look at him you wouldn’t even have known he was in pain. Obviously we gave him pain killers and antibiotic injections immediately, but he didn’t show anything except this enormous courage and this real fighting spirit. And I can remember just being in tears over it.

We knew that we were going to have to give very, very intensive, three or four times a day, treatment. And we did. We literally just put the antibiotic solution in somehow inside because it was a gaping wound. He was amazing. It took probably about between six to eight months. Every day you’d notice that all the tissues and the skin and the muscle and the fat and everything was growing over until eventually you could no longer see the spine and the ribs.

Safe Haven’s highly popular mobile vet clinic offers wound, hoof, and dental care as well as other vital services for donkeys.

Even when we go to our clinic in Qalqilya, for example and you see all the animals there, you know that these are only the ones that we’re seeing. What about all those hundreds of others that are out there and also need our help when we are not perhaps yet working there and that’s another way actually of being inspired also is that constant knowledge of knowing that there is more and more and more and more to do.

Safe Haven has created a successful initiative that shows members of the local community that donkeys should be embraced with love and respect.

So every week, we try to bring different children to the sanctuary and it’s wonderful because you see these small boys with a grooming brush in their hand and brushing the donkeys, feeding them and helping to muck out, and it’s just simple things but it’s just teaching them that a donkey can be your friend; it’s simple little things.

Love is the best teacher. Safe Haven’s compassionate program has transformed the tender hearts of many children. One Palestinian boy cherished Ms.Fensom’s love of animals so much that he put her photo with a donkey into the locket of his necklace. At one of Safe Haven’s vet service visits, the boy’s father brought him over and showed her his necklace.

You can imagine I was just so, deeply touched. I said, “Oh that’s so lovely, but why?” He said, “Because for us, you are an angel. And I feel that if your little photo is in my little boy’s locket, you’ll look after him.”

For Ms. Fensom and her colleagues’ many years of dedicated service to animals, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land and Lucy Fensom with the Shining World Compassion Award. The beautiful crystal Award plaque reads as follows:

In Recognition of Immense Courage, Dedication and Loving Assistance Providing First Class Care and Protection for Animals in Need Inspiring Ever Higher Ideals of Kindness and Respect for All Beings. With Compliments and Gratitude For Uplifting the Holy Land with Your Benevolent Generosity Selfless Concern and Compassionate Action

Thank you so much; that is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

Accompany the Award was a loving letter from Supreme Master Ching Hai, the following of which is an excerpt:

Witnessing the mistreatment and cruelty meted out to the vulnerable donkeys in Israel and Palestine you were shocked and dismayed. Feeling strongly for the predicament of these trusting and gentle beings, you knew something needed to be done. Touched by their plight, you took action, first saving Donk, then finding and bringing in many more, treating them with heartfelt love. Your wise and compassionate organization now reaches out to shed light where once there was darkness, replacing neglect with care and ignorance with understanding.

Heaven is by the side of those doing good works. The expansion and success of Safe Haven is testament to this, and to the dedication of all staff and volunteers. For selflessly providing for the needs of vulnerable and abused animals, for your vision, wisdom, creativity, and benevolent generosity, and for being a dedicated and noble role model, we hereby applaud and celebrate the compassionate deeds of Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land, with special thanks to Founder, Ms. Lucy Fensom. With Great Honor, Love and Blessings, Supreme Master Ching Hai.

Thank you. That is absolutely beautiful.

In addition to the Award and letter, Supreme Master Ching Hai also contributed US$10,000 to support the work of Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land and provided several gifts including a selection of her DVDs and books such as “The Love of Centuries” and #1 international best-sellers “The Birds in My Life,” “The Dogs in My Life,” and “The Noble Wilds.”

Thank you so much. As you can imagine, that amount of money will go a very, very long way in helping us. Of course, we have the sanctuary with 150 donkeys, horses and mules that need to be fed every day, and then medical care and they have worming, for example, every three months, their yearly vaccinations. We have our farrier that comes every eight weeks to trim their little hooves. And of course, in addition, we got all our outreach work, so that is a phenomenal amount of money that will go a very long way in helping us, so thank you so much, really, it’s fantastic.

Ms. Fensom has this message of thanks for Supreme Master Ching Hai.

To the Supreme Master Ching Hai. You are absolutely wonderful, and I think the greatest thing I can wish for in my life is to meet you one day. Really, and I’m so very grateful to you and I think what has touched me so very much today is your wording, both from the Award and in this most beautiful letter. You obviously have such a deep understanding, and I appreciate immensely and really thank you with all our heart. Thank you.

We congratulate Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land on receiving the Shining World Compassion Award! Lucy Fensom, our warmest thanks to you and all the staff members, volunteers, and supporters of Safe Haven for your devotion, dedication and love in caring for the helpless donkeys, horses and mules. May your compassionate work continue to help animals live in peace and contentment while also encouraging adults and children to always treat our fellow beings with love and consideration.

For more information on Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land, please visit: www.SafeHaven4Donkeys.org

Harmonious viewers, we enjoyed your company on this edition of the Shining World Award series. May we forever cherish all animals with kindness and joy.