Speaker lauds Irene Gleeson

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has praised the late Australian philanthropist Irene Gleeson, who dedicated her life to supporting orphans in northern Uganda.
Officiating at the annual Irene Gleeson Memorial Charity walk in Kitgum, Saturday, 21 July 2018, Kadaga said that Gleeson made a great sacrifice giving her life at a time when there was uncertainty and war.
“She made a difference, gave hope, built capacity, touched many lives, gave opportunities to the less fortunate and to the children this was a very big sanctuary. Due to the war, the children in the North did not have the opportunity to be children but Gleeson gave them this and more,” Kadaga said.
Gleeson first came to war-torn northern Uganda in 1992 and parked her caravan in the Lord's Resistance Army territory close to the then-border of Sudan, and over the years built her orphan school around it.
Irene Gleeson was a Christian missionary to the children of Kitgum District, whose lives were disrupted first by war then by HIV/AIDS. She was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010 for "service to international relations, particularly through sustained aid for children affected by war and HIV-AIDS in northern Uganda." She died in  2013 after a yearlong battle with cancer.
The Speaker tasked the district leadership to continue with Gleeson’s legacy and maintain the structures that she started.
“Many times, we do not care about maintenance of the infrastructure that houses us but I urge the team running the foundation not to wait for funds from Australia but to keep the infrastructure clean and painted. Let us support Irene’s dream by keeping the infrastructure in a great state,” she added.
The State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Okello Oryem, said that the Irene Gleeson Foundation (IGF) was looking at building and completing a state-of-the-art library for children.
“We are looking at raising shs600 million to complete a library that we believe will improve the education of these children. We continue to celebrate Mama Irene’s life and pray that the celebrations next year will be bigger and better,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the Foundation, Prisca Aciro, said that Mama Irene gave her hope, took her off the streets after being rejected by her father when she refused to get married.
“I ran away from home because my father wanted me to get married. When Mama Irene found me, she took me in and gave me a future. At the moment, I have a diploma in midwifery and I head the IGF Maternity health hospital. I am going to get a bachelors [degree soon],” Aciro said.