Home | News    Sunday 28 July 2013

Thousands honour Australian aid worker Irene “Mama” Gleeson in Uganda

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

July 27, 2013 (KAMPALA) – Some 10,000 people have attended a day-long memorial service in Uganda on Sunday for Australia’s Irene Gleeson who dedicated more than 20 years of her life to help children traumatised by war.

JPEG - 12.5 kb
Irene Gleeson worked with orphaned and traumatised children in Uganda for more than 20 years (Photo: IGF)

“Mama Irene” as she was affectionately known died in Sydney last Sunday from cancer, aged 68.

She is remembered for her work with orphaned children and those abducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Uganda’s foreign minister, Henry Okello, and several MPs were among the mourners who attended the service on the grounds of the Irene Gleeson Foundation (IGF) at Kitgum, about seven hours north of the capital, Kampala

After hearing about the plight of orphans in Uganda back in 1989, Gleeson sold her beachside home and all her possessions and moved to the country’s war-torn northern region.

After arriving in Uganda from Australia in 1991, she towed her caravan 500 kilometres from Kampala to the Sudan border.

Under Kony’s notorious reign of terror in northern Uganda, whole communities were terrorised, maimed and destroyed, while more than 60,000 children were forced to fight in a brutal two-decades-long armed conflict.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently pursuing Kony and those in the senior ranks of the LRA for alleged crimes against humanity.

Gleeson’s organisation fed, housed and educated an estimated 6,000 orphans or destitute children while working on the frontline throughout the conflict.

During much of that time she lived alone in her caravan at Kitgum, while building several primary schools and two vocational colleges.

In 2009, Gleeson was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her tireless work in health, education, HIV awareness and vocational training.

Gleeson, who leaves behind four children and 15 grandchildren, never knew her father and married at 16, a year after her mother’s death. She endured a devastating divorce 20 years later.

When Gleeson first arrived in Kitgum, 40 kilometres from the Sudan border, she found a community ravaged by war and struggling for survival in a harsh environment.

Her Christian-based IGF established itself in the area and now has 8,000 children in its care and 450 staff supported through Australian and US donors.

In an interview with Australia’s Fairfax Media, IGF’s executive director, John-Paul Kiffasi, said Gleeson was adamant that Ugandan children should have the same conditions as those in Australia.

“She gave away her children’s inheritance, sold her home in Sydney and came into a war zone to set up a caravan in the bush. She first gathered 50 kids under a mango tree and fed them, clothed them and educated them”, he said.

“Twenty years later we now have had more than 20,000 gone through these doors. The first 50 are now managers at our four schools, one became a doctor and four are nurses”, he added.

More than 6,000 past and current IGF students, scores of locals, dignitaries and numerous representatives from international and local non-governmental organisations were in attendance at the memorial service.

Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Bob Carr, also sent a tribute on behalf of the Australian people and government.

In a statement on its website, IGF said Gleeson would be remembered in Uganda as a hero and that the organisation was committed to continuing her work in the region.

“The team at IGF, out of the love and enormous respect we have for Irene, want to say that more than ever our desire is to see Irene’s dream continue for years to come. We want to see many more children in Kitgum receive the love and support that Irene would have wanted to give them. We want to see the families of Kitgum have a future and a hope”, the statement said.

A funeral service for Gleeson will be held on Monday in Sydney.

(ST)

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 28 July 2013 06:39, by Gabriel KK

    RIP Irene, you are a real hero and because these achievements you will remain alive in the minds of those Children.

    repondre message

    • 28 July 2013 08:40, by Tutbol

      Thank you and God blesses you & your country Ausralia for your selfless service to the people of Northern Uganda.

      repondre message

Comment on this article


 
 

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Musa Hilal’s "Awakening": Khartoum’s worst nightmare? 2015-04-22 06:33:05 By the Sudan Democracy First Musa Hilal, once one of the principal commanders of the Janjaweed militias which supported the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the 2003/04 ethnic cleansing campaign in (...)

A brief history one man’s destructive misrepresentations 2015-04-18 08:07:54 By Eric Reeves Al Jazeera America is currently airing a two-part documentary that attempts to represent the character and causes of the catastrophe that has overtaken South Sudan following the (...)

Sudan’s election marred by arbitrary detention, and insecurity 2015-04-18 06:31:10 By African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies Sudan’s national general elections began on 13 April 2015. Scheduled to end on 15 April, they were extended one day by the National Elections (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


Sudan’s 2015 Elections: A huge step in democratic consolidation 2015-04-22 13:12:25 EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE SUDAN 3 CLEVELAND ROW, ST.JAMES'S LONDON SW1A 1DD TEL: 020-7839 8080 PRESS AND INFORMATION RELEASE (2/2015) Sudan’s 2015 Elections: A Huge Step in Democratic (...)

Sudanese security arrest rights defender Adil Bakheit 2015-04-18 08:04:21 FRONT-LINE DEFENDRSPress StatementSudan Human rights defender Adil Bakheit arrested Human rights defender Mr Adil Bakheit was arrested on 16 April 2015 by the National Intelligence and Security (...)

Which do you choose? Peace or War? 2015-04-18 06:16:42 To the South Sudanese Diaspora Which do you choose? Peace or War? Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan, April 11, 2015 “The Voice of the South Sudanese Diaspora” Who are/What is the South (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2015 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.