The gift that keeps on giving - 27 years and counting

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What started as a project to airlift 20 Irish in-calf dairy heifers to an impoverished Ugandan community, has grown to an international organisation that provides livestock in long-term development aid.

T J Maher helped to co-found Bóthar in 1991 with retired CEO of the organisation Peter Ireton, as an intended one-off gesture by the local farming community to airlift 20 Irish in-calf dairy heifers to an impoverished Ugandan community to mark the Limerick Treaty 300 celebrations.

“After a lot of local training and preparation, our recipient families will receive a very special animal, one that can continue to give for many years.”

It has since gone on to become one of Ireland’s best-known charity organisations, lifting over 10,000 families across the developing world out of destitution annually with livestock donations.

Receiving the gift of an Irish dairy cow or goat will be the first time that many of the families Bóthar works with will earn an income and this gift of a food-and-income-producing animal is like receiving the keys to a successful business.

Speaking at the birthday celebration, Bóthar CEO Dave Moloney said: “After a lot of local training and preparation, our recipient families will receive a very special animal, one that can continue to give for many years.

“Every family that receives an Irish dairy heifer notices an immediate difference in their lives when she calves and starts to produce milk. Irish dairy cows do very well in the Developing World, giving about 16-20 litres of milk per day, whereas for example in Rwanda, the local, indigenous cow produces just one litre per day.”

He added: “They now have a sustainable food source - a dairy cow means survival. The great thing is that Bóthar has continued doing this thousands of times over.”

This year to mark Bóthar’s milestone anniversary, a specially chartered flight will leave Shannon Airport bound for Kigali Airport, Rwanda.

On it - it is hoped - will be Irish dairy cows, Irish dairy goats, Irish pigs, Irish chicks and top quality Irish Artificial Insemination straws.

This special convoy will help hundreds of small-holder farmers, who are literally on the brink.

They have absolutely nothing and this gift is more than life-changing – it’s life saving.

Speaking about the special airlift Mr Moloney said: “We want to fill the plane. And that is where the people of Ireland come in. If everyone in Ireland gave just €1 we would be able to send ten planes and we want to send just one. If you can at all, please support the appeal. You can donate online www.bothar.org or call 1850 82 99 99.”