Charity founded in 1991 lifts families out of poverty every year

Back in the 1985, a group of fired-up pop stars, shocked by images of malnourishment that were broadcast across the world, came together to do what they could to help the starving of Ethiopia.
Charity founded in 1991 lifts families out of poverty every year

Led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, they christened their efforts ‘Live Aid’.

Well, Bóthar must surely be the rural equivalent of ‘Live Aid.’ It literally is Live Aid.

In Bóthar’s case, MEP and ex-IFA president TJ Maher, and Peter Ireton, were the lightning rods that got things moving.

T.J. Maher helped to co-found Bóthar in 1991, with the now retired CEO of the organisation, Peter Ireton.

Initially it had been intended as a once 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.

It has since gone on to become one of Ireland’s best-known charity organisations, lifting over 10,000 families annually across the developing world out of destitution with livestock donations. So how does a farmer who would like to get involved do so, I asked Bóthar CEO Dave Moloney.

“To get involved, simply call our office on 1850 82 99 99 and tell us what they would like to donate. We only accept certain breeds of animals, and we talk to them about when to go about putting the animals in calf, when to get testing done and so on. We are with them through every step of the process.”

And what about the red tape, I ask. Even moving an animal to a neighbour carries a great deal of paperwork, never mind taking the animal half way across the world.

“Each animal is tested and is only allowed to travel after strict testing by the Department of Agriculture. We are very used to the process. We need to make sure that every animal that is sent is going to make a difference, which is why we only accept certain breeds.”

On the subject of farmers who donate, this is what Mr Moloney had to say.

“We are very fortunate to have so many loyal donors. Some families have given a heifer a year since we began 25 years ago. Others give when they can. The animals come from all over Ireland.

“We ask farmers to donate animals every year through our Spring Calf Appeal. Monetary donations are taken right throughout the year. As you can appreciate, the transport and veterinary costs associated with the airlifts are high, so we use monetary donations to send the animals.

I also spoke to Limerick farmer, Thomas Blackburn, who is one of Bóthar’s longest standing donors. From Effin, Co. Limerick, Thomas visited one of Bóthar’s dairy cow projects. Here’s what he said.

“I was lucky enough to travel to Uganda and I met some incredible people there. And even though it’s a bit ago now, I remember the trip as if it were yesterday.

"I could see that this gift that we had given had changed lives. Indeed, it most likely saved lives. It has stayed with me ever since and it’s why Marian and I continue to support Bo´thar. Because I know the difference a cow makes.”

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