It is incredible to think that it is now fifteen years since Brighton-born Lucy Fensom set up Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land in memory of her donkey friend ‘Donk’, who she had rescued from Israel and brought back to the UK.
An article in the Mail on Sunday about Lucy’s plans to help donkeys in the Holy Land brought in a flood of donations and in 2000, Lucy took the plunge and moved to Israel to set up the sanctuary, staying on a kibbutz. Soon she had rescued a stray donkey from the side of the road and everything snowballed from there.
By 2002, the donkeys had outgrown their home on the kibbutz and Lucy found a 4 acre site in the agricultural village of Moshav gan Yoshiyya, about 45 minutes’ drive north of Tel Aviv and close to the Palestinian border.
This proximity to the border proved vital when in 2005, the charity purchased a mobile clinic vehicle and began visiting towns and villages in Israel and Palestine to offer free veterinary treatment to working animals, by 2015 visiting 40 different towns and villages every month. In 2011, Safe Haven’s first permanent clinic opened in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya, followed by a second in the city of Nablus in 2012, both areas of desperate need. These clinics are open 24 hours a day for emergency cases and local vets hold regular sessions there for more complex needs. The clinics are also a base for education sessions for the owners who rely on their animals and for visits from local schools, colleges and universities.
Today, over 220 donkeys call the sanctuary home and so in this Safe Haven’s special year, we are raising funds for ‘for those animals to celebrate 15 years of caring. Of course, we also won’t forget the 600 donkeys, mules and horses which the team help in the community every week! No-one, least of all Lucy herself, thought that taking pity on a mistreated donkey 20 years ago would lead to so much. However, Lucy and her team which includes Christians, Muslims, Jews and even Buddhists, are making a real difference to the lives of donkeys and their owners across Israel and Palestine and that’s what makes all the challenges and stressful times worth it.
Lucy’s achievements over the last 15 years are truly inspiring but not of this could have happened without the support of members of the public. Alongside around 6,000 supporters worldwide, for the past 10 years a small but loyal band of volunteers has been raising funds by holding stalls at events across the Bright FM area. This year, the charity will be having a stand at the South of England Show in Ardingly from the 11th to the 13th June and will be organising the first ever “Family Day For Donkeys” at Ardingly College Pre Prep on Sunday 26th July. The event, running from 12 noon to 4pm, will include thrill rides in an “Atom” car, craft stalls, children’s play area, licenced bar, live music, refreshments, archery and lots more – something for all the family!
To find out more, visit www.safehaven4donkeys.org, call 01444 831177 or write to Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land, the Old Dairy, Springfield Farm, Lewes Road, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex, RH17 7NG
As well as donating by cheque or via the website, you can also donate by PayPal using the e-mail address [email protected] and by text message by texting FDFD99 to 70070 (this will donate £10).