Irene Gleeson, (Dec 30, 1944-July 21, 2013) an Australian humanitarian, sold all she had including her beach house in Sydney, to eventually care for thousands of orphaned children in the African country of Uganda. When she moved to Uganda, she parked her caravan near the territory terrorized by Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony had been accused by the government of ordering the abduction of children to become soldiers and sex slaves. From 1986-2009, 66000 children became soldiers and 2 million people were displaced.
As a school teacher by trade, Gleeson started her first school for children under a mango tree. Since there was a language barrier, she taught the children by writing in the dirt. From there, Gleeson went from teaching in the dirt to eventually building five primary schools that educate, feed and provide medical care for over 10,000 children daily. In addition, the Irene Gleeson Foundation has a vocational school, a health program, including a 60 bed HIV hospital, a 1500 member community church for spiritual healing and support for the locals, a radio station that broadcasts educational programs and local gospel music to over 1 million listeners. IGF also has a WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program much needed in Uganda. Irene died in 2013 from cancer but the Irene Gleeson Foundation thrives to help the people of Uganda.
‘There was no running water, no electricity, no food; just thousands of destitute children’
‘I pointed at them and I said, “Don’t touch me. I belong to God. If you touch me God will get you,” and they all backed off’
‘Everyone has an amazing, satisfying destiny in God. It’s not glamorous though.’
‘I never knew why my childhood was so unhappy, but now I can see it gave me the grit and the determination to defend little children‘
‘The sun is very harsh on my skin and the diet is not good. I love the sea, but this is a land-locked country. It’s nothing to do with what I would choose, but it works because it’s God’s plan and I was trained for it’