Concern Co-Founder Appealing for 50 Year Reunion

by Jordan Upshaw
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Concern founder John O'Loughin Kennedy

In 1968 John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy wanted to do something to help the people of Biafra who were trapped behind a military blockade and suffering from a famine.

The husband and wife team called a meeting in their home in the hopes of deciding what they could do. To their surprise, 40 people squeezed into their apartment on March 19, 1968.

Those present founded African Concern. Later on, the scope of the organisation broadened and the name was changed to just Concern.

The original members quickly began raising money and awareness. In September of 1968, they were able to send a 600 tonne supply ship with food, medicine, and batteries. That was the first of 50 years’ worth of dedicated humanitarian aid to some of the world’s poorest countries.

Today, Concern is Ireland’s largest humanitarian aid agency. Their work focuses on nutrition, health, HIV and AIDS, education, and emergency response programmes. Over the Christmas 2017 period, Concern received more than €1 million in donations.

Sadly, Kay passed away in 2016. But as the 50th anniversary of the first meeting approaches, John is trying to track down the other 40 people who were there.

In a letter to local news outlets, John wrote: “The 50th anniversary is a time to recognise the phenomenal work of Concern throughout the years… and to ‘give thanks’, especially to those very early day supporters.

“We have no record of the 40 people who attended that meeting, but they or their family members will remember…We would like to make contact with them or their representatives.”

At the time this article was written, John had already managed to track down four of the individuals however the lack of records has proved to be a hindrance.

Concern plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary with various events throughout 2018. One such event will be an international conference this autumn but details of this have yet to be finalised.

John hopes that those who made Concern Worldwide possible in the first place will be able to be a part of celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.

John has requested that if you or someone you know attended that meeting to write to him at Concern Worldwide 52-55 Lower Camden Street, Dublin or email him at [email protected].

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