At approximately 1:45 pm today, 70 purebred cows landed at the airport in Timisoara, Romania. These heifers flew from Ireland to be integrated into a food security project for orphans and poor families in central and western Romania through a partnership between Heifer International and Bothar Ireland. Bothar is part of a network of non-governmental organizations that use livestock in development aid. It is also sensitive to children’s needs and has experience helping children in Central and Eastern European countries.
The cows are Holstein Frisian and were brought to Romania to ensure the necessary milk for institutionalized children and rural families without income. The heifers came from Shelton Abbey Prison in Ireland, raised by prisoners living under an “open prison” concept, which allows them to raise livestock.
Twenty heifers will go to Caminul Felix orphanage in Oradea. Following Heifer’s Pass on the Gift model, each of the children who receives a cow will pass on the first female offspring to another orphan.
According to the Romanian National Authority for Child Protection, 80,000 to 100,000 children between 0-18 years are institutionalized every year. The daily food allocation for orphan children is about $2.80, which is not enough to provide proper nutrition. Through the Milk for Orphans Project, daily nutritional supplements will be provided on a long-term basis for the children, meeting their dietary needs and improving their general health. The project will ultimately serve more than 5,000 children from orphanages in central and western Romania.
Milk processing will be ensured by the Animal Breeders Association in Corusu, which operates a milk collection center, built with the support of Heifer Romania.
The remaining 50 heifers flown in today will reach poor rural families in Rasca commune, 56 miles from Cluj. About 60 percent of the families here do not have consistent incomes. They are trying to establish small-scale private farming in order to earn a living. Through the project, the families will improve their nutrition and increase their income by breeding Holstein Frisian cows, well known for their high milk production and rapid adaptability to various climate conditions. These families will also pass on the first female offspring of their dairy cows to another impoverished family, and they will donate 79 gallons of milk to orphan children.
The arrival of the heifers was a huge success, according to Heifer Romania Communications and Public Relations Coordinator Laura Manciu. The animals landed and were transferred safely and without any problems. The airlift was a big media event, with more than 30 reporters from different media institutions. Mr. Valeriu Tabara, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development attended the event and gave a short speech in support of Heifer and Bothar’s efforts.