Heart of a Lioness

Sacrifice, Courage and Relentless Love Among the Children of Uganda

Irene Gleeson with Nicole Partridge

Meet the Author

Irene Gleeson —In 1992, Irene Gleeson and her then husband, sold their Sydney beach homes and everything they owned, and then towed a small caravan to Kitgum on the Sudan border in order to rescue abducted child soldiers and children orphaned in the conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan governments. Once there, she gathered 50 children under the shade of a mango tree. This is where her ministry began. Today, the 450 staff of the Irene Gleeson Foundation educates, medicates, and feeds 8,000+ children in Northern Uganda. That number continues to grow every day. Irene Gleeson passed away July 21, 2013 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Nicole Partridge — Nicole Partridge is a freelance journalist and writer whose feature stories have been published in newspapers and magazines in Australia, the US, UK and New Zealand. Nicole began her career in marketing and communications for some of Australia’s largest aid organizations, before making the move into journalism. Her stories have appeared in such publications as Marie Claire magazine, The Guardian (UK), Charisma magazine (USA) and The Sydney Morning Herald. Nicole makes her home in Sydney, Australia with her husband Scott and their two daughters.

The true story of "Mama Irene"

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.

Heart of a Lioness will take readers on Irene’s journey of obedience, sacrifice and unwavering faith. A moving narrative filled with drama, humour and deeply personal insights, Irene recounts story after story of God’s miracles amidst the frustrations of running a ministry as an older single white woman. The book will challenge and inspire readers to find their mission in life and will reinforce the notion that no matter who you are, or where you’ve been – it’s never too late to find your purpose.

Product Details

978-1-78078-047-4 (paperback)
978-1-78078-249-2 (eBook)
336 pp
5.5" x 8.5" PB
(BIO 018 000)
(BIO 026 000)
October 10, 2014


• Justice ministry and child advocacy advertising campaign to build grass-roots momentum.
• Major social media campaign including launch team.
• Targeted publicity for major Radio and TV outlets.
• Featured on authenticpublishers.com and other websites.

Target Audience