All-Ireland winning manager leads Bothar animal airlift to Rwanda

Yesterday over 5,300 farm animals donated to Bothar, accompanied by Dublin Senior Football Manager Jim Gavin, began their journey from Shannon Airport, Co. Clare to Rwanda.

The animal airlift, which was organised by the charity Bothar, will see these food-and-income-producing animals change the lives of almost 800 African families.

Just nine days after his third All-Ireland title win as Dublin manager, Gavin became one of two ‘groomsmen’ on board the flight, the biggest ever multi-species airlift of its kind in the world to Rwanda, according to Bothar.

I was really looking forward to this airlift but now that I’ve met with the farmers donating the heifers, the Bothar team and other supporters, I’ve got a real sense of what goes into a trip like this.

“Winning the All-Ireland is, of course, a privilege but this is also. To be able to witness first-hand the transformation of the lives of some of the poorest people in the world is definitely a privilege,” Gavin said.

The cargo included 37 in-calf heifers, three bulls for the Rwandan Government National Bovine Breeding Scheme, 260 pigs, 100 goats, and 5,000 chicks.

Also on board will be 5,000 doses of Bovine Semen for the Rwandan Breeding Programme run by Bothar’s sister agency Heifer International.

Almost half of the in-calf heifers will have been hand-reared by inmates at Shelton Abbey Prison, Co. Wicklow and Loughan House Open Centre, Co. Cavan as part of their restorative justice programme.

The Dublin GAA manager, who is a qualified pilot, worked alongside the Bothar team, sponsors MSD Animal Health and other volunteers yesterday at Roscrea Mart in Co. Tipperary, where the animals were held prior to the flight.

On arrival in Rwanda, the animals, producing yields of six times what local animals deliver, will be placed in quarantine to rest and adjust to their new environment, the charity outlined.

This was the aid agency’s most important ever airlift and represents the 25th anniversary of the charities first airlift, according to Bothar CEO Dave Moloney.

“We’re particularly indebted to the farming community. At a time when milk prices have only started to slowly recover from a massive drop, farmers have still come up trumps by donating quality heifers,” he said.

The charity was delighted to have the support of Gavin for the airlift to Rwanda, Moloney also said.

“He’s been so supportive and was so engaging with everyone in Roscrea today. He gave freely of his time to anyone who wanted to chat with him and that was practically everyone who was here,” the Bothar CEO said.

This project would not have been possible without the help of volunteers, to those who donated money or animals, sponsors MSD, Dovea Genetics, Volunteers in Irish Veterinary Assistance and the Truly Irish pig co-op, he outlined.