Gates gift a tribute to Concern

Posted by Kelly Fincham at 7/29/2009 4:57 PM EDT

I'm delighted with the news about Concern winning that enormous grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

It's a tribute to the organization and the people who work for it.

Limerick woman Siobhan Walsh has been representing Concern here in New York as long as I've been here and, along with her staff, she's a fantastic envoy for Concern.

Concern's roots like in a one-off response to appeals from Irish missionaries working in the war-torn African nation of Biafra in 1968.

Originally named Africa Concern, it was set up in the home of Kay and John O’Loughlin Kennedy in Ireland a few days after St Patrick's Day in 1968.

The group's first action was to send a ship, The Columcille, to Biafra laden with medical and food supplies later that same year.

Then, in 1970, Africa Concern became Concern when it launched an appeal for the victims of the cyclone which walloped then East Pakistan. (Which is now known as Bangladesh, but you knew that didn't you?!)

Anyway, suffice to say Concern has since expanded to 50 countries and its mission is simple - trying to alleviate the effects of the brutal poverty in the developing world. Think of Frank McCourt's Limerick and multiply it a bit further.

The organization is such an icon at home that they even made it into a Sawdoctors' song
I remember her collecting for Concern on Christmas Eve.

Some charities might raise more publicity but Concern keeps raising awareness.

And actually, when you think about it, the $41m is $1m for every year Concern has been working!



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