The work of late Australian philanthropist Irene “Mamma” Gleeson has been praised by the president of Uganda, a country where some appreciative citizens have named their children after the charity worker.
Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni honoured the Christian missionary, who succumbed to cancer and diabetes in July 2013, for establishing schools and looking after over 3500 destitute people.
The president said she was a hard-working woman with strong religious faith.
Thousands of people from Uganda and overseas attended the occasion at Boma ground in the northern Kitgum district, which started with a prayer.
Museveni described her as a humble, caring, loving and hard-working person who Ugandans should seek to emulate.
“She did a lot for this place and we appreciate her efforts,” he said in a speech read out at an event to celebrate her life.
“I thank her for building two primary schools, two vocational schools, a health centre, starting an FM radio and establishing a Pentecostal church called Irene Gleeson community church.
“Gleeson is an icon of charity, a peacemaker, developer, a credible mother who created a home for homeless children.”
Gleeson went to northern Uganda when rebels were still killing civilians in the late 1980s.
Most non-government organisation personnel had fled the area but Gleeson persisted and started schools for displaced children.
Her institutions are still operating under the auspices of the Irene Gleeson foundation, which was established before her death.
At a recent heroes day celebration, the president posthumously awarded her a hero’s medal in recognition of her work in northern Uganda during the rebels war.
Some residents in northern Uganda have named their children after Gleeson in appreciation and recognition of her good work in the area.