Bóthar, the Limerick based charity that is this year celebrating 21 years helping the world’s poor has launched a Christmas campaign asking people to give the greatest present of all – a ‘gift that gives life’.
Limerick, which is the birthplace of and remains the headquarters for Bóthar, has traditionally been a stronghold in terms of its response to the annual Bóthar Christmas appeal and the aid agency is hoping this festive season will be no different.
“There can hardly be a better gift than one that allows you to say to a loved one, ‘my gift to you this year is that I am going to send a cow to a poor family in Africa in your name. This is going to change lives for generations to come. That’s the ultimate gift that any of us can give,” said Bóthar chief executive David Moloney.
“Christmas is peak time of the year for giving and it accounts for almost half of our total donations. We lift approximately 6,000 families annually out of poverty so we are hoping to raise enough funds, have enough animals purchased, from this Christmas appeal to lift approximately 3,000 families from the most wretched poverty imaginable.”
Chef and owner of the acclaimed MacNean House and Restaurant in Co. Cavan Maguire said that the Bóthar model is successful because it helps people help themselves: “I have travelled to a number of Bóthar project locations in Africa and have seen for myself the incredible impact that a donation of an Irish dairy cow or goat can make to families. One animal can turn their world around.”
Bóthar was established in Limerick in 1991 as an initial one-off gesture of airlifting cows to 20 families in a poverty stricken region of Uganda to mark the city’s Treaty 300 celebrations. Since then it has grown into one of Ireland’s leading international NGOs.
Over the past 21 years, the organisation has delivered thousands of animals annually to families in 35 countries across Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe
While the organisation started out with an airlift of Irish heifers, it broadened its livestock donations in the early years to include Irish goats and pigs. It now also purchases water buffalo, camels and sheep in project countries for local families. Bóthar has in more recent years extended the list of options for supporters to donate to chickens, fish, rabbits, snails, beehives and even trees.
Ear to the Ground presenter and radio broadcaster Ella McSweeney, who joined Maguire at the launch, said that livestock aid is one of the most practical ways to make a difference to people’s lives in the developing world.