A passover ceremony took place on Wednesday, with all the heifers going to families headed by women.

The women lost their husbands after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Bóthar works in conjunction with Rwanda's Girinka programme, which was established in 2006. People living in poverty receive the gift of an in-calf heifer and are shown how to care for it by local vets. They then must pass its first-born heifer to a neighbouring family.

Aideen O’Leary from Cork has been working in Rwanda for two years, overseeing the development of a creamery being built by Bóthar in Ruisizi, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"The recipients are very happy," she told the Farmers Journal. "The heifers will make a huge difference in the lives of these women.

"Over 1,000 people attended the passover ceremony. It was very emotional."

The people who brought the heifers to Rwanda are staying for a few days to visit the country.

"We are spending a few days travelling around the country to visit past recipients and the handlers can't believe how much of an impact the cows are having in the lives of these families, from the installation of biogas generators to education," Aideen added.

Loughan House

The dairy heifers were living on the grounds of Loughan House for 18-months on behalf of Bóthar, the charity that uses livestock in development aid. They were raised under the supervision of Alan McGowen.

This is part of an ongoing programme between the Bóthar and the Irish Prison Service.

The Farmers Journal travelled to Rwanda to see the difference these cows are making in the lives of people in this small country in Eastern Africa. You can read the story here.