At 35, Irene Gleeson's life was all but over. Her first marriage had fallen apart, her family home had been sold and her children were on a path of self-destruction. Disillusioned and anxious, she sought answers in all manner of places, but when this all came to nothing, she spiralled further into the abyss. Broke and depressed, suicidal and trawling the night clubs looking for love, Irene made an unexpected discovery of God's love on the 28th of November, 1982. Standing at the back of a small beachside church, the presence of God embraced her, and in that moment, she was finally free. With a renewed sense of purpose, peace and several answered prayers, Irene asked this of her saviour: "Jesus, you've done this for me, what can I do for you?" What followed was a commitment by Irene and her then second husband to sponsoring children from around the world and embarking on short-term missions' trips. But it was a visit to Ethiopia in 1988 to meet their sponsored children that would be the turning point. In February 1992, Irene and her husband sold up everything, waved goodbye to family and friends and shipped their modest aluminium caravan 12,000 kms from the warm, white sands of Australia to the red, dust of Uganda. In a small isolated community on the Sudan border, the couple began their work of rescuing and rehabilitating child soldiers and orphans. Irene taught the children to sing and then to read and write - eventually adding feeding, education and medical care to her repertoire. While the work continued to grow and flourish, her relationship didn't, and before long, she found herself alone - yet again. Irene forged ahead despite the hardships - extreme isolation, swelteringly hot days, repeated bouts of malaria and several attacks by rebels. Hand in hand with Jesus, she carved out a global organisation that has left an indelible imprint on the hearts and lives of 20,000 war affected Ugandans.
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