“I thought that animals were always in the trenches, in harm’s way. Unless somebody, somewhere could find a way to build a new ark. . . . it had to be big enough to carry us all again.”
— Brenda Peterson in Build Me an Ark
Nadeem Shehzad and Mohammad Saud are brothers and amateur bird medics who for twenty years have treated 20,000 black kites out of the basement office of their nonprofit Wildlife Rescue in New Delhi. They have spent up to 12 hours a day treating these birds of prey. Now middle-aged, they appreciate the help of their young volunteer assistant, Salik Rehman.
As young boys, these Muslim brothers took to heart the counsel of their mother who told them to “respect all that breathes.” They were taught that feeding kites earns religious merit. Still most people in the city ignore the plight of the birds, who daily fall from the sky with injuries or from the effects of the air pollution. This attitude is disappointing given that the kites eat 10 tons of garbage a month at the local landfill and without them, the garbage problem in the city would be even more dire. “They eat away our filth,” says one of their rescuers.
While aware of these facts about kites, the three men of Wildlife Rescue seem to be more motivated by love and compassion. Like the Jains who practice ahimsa, they practice nonviolence toward all forms of life. They roam the city looking for the birds and bring them back to their clinic to be treated. The kites that can be rehabilitated are returned to the sky.
It's evident watching this documentary that Wildlife Rescue desperately needs funding and more support. They apply for a grant and try to raise money through outreach. Their need increases when sectarian violence erupts in New Delhi and they and their families, not to mention the birds, are in danger.
Watching the concern and care Shehzad, Saud, and Rehman offer the kites, you will be inspired by their compassionate caring. And you will also be moved to consider what you and your community are doing for the hurt beings in your midst. Nature writer Brenda Peterson calls this “building a new ark.” Here are two ways to begin.
Respect all forms of life. “In Buddhism we are taught to clasp our palms together and bow to all beings, seen and unseen. In this way, we show our intention to cherish and respect all forms of life. This is a vital spiritual principle.”
— Lama Surya Das in Awakening to the Sacred
Take a vow. “Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.
“I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
“We may be killing every day by the way we eat, drink, and use the land, air and water. We think that we don’t kill, but we do. Mindfulness of action helps us be aware so we can stop the killing and begin saving and helping.”
— Thich Nhat Hahn in The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching