Irene - Christmas 2005

It is July and the night is cold in the African winter. Baby Irene's parents are celebrating some unknown and unimportant occasion. They have been drinking heavily again. Irene's mother is heavily drunk and when Irene starts screaming, she gets very angry with her.

Irene's mother and her boyfriend are unemployed and have great difficulty feeding their children. But night after night they have enough money to get drunk. One might wonder if they do this so that they don't notice how much their children's stomachs ache from hunger. They live in a ramshackle shack made of milk cartons, cardboard boxes and some sticks and stones. The shack is so close to the road that they feel the vibration of the wheels when trucks pass on the road.

This July night a particularly bad night. The children had been screaming all day. It was cold and damp and they had nothing to eat. Irene's father came home from looking for work and was already drunk. Irene's mother had disagreements with her father and a big fight broke out. The other children hid, but unfortunately two-month-old Irene couldn't do the same.

Her mother worked herself up into such a rage that she thrashed Irene until her back and buttocks were green and blue. It was such a commotion that the neighbours ran together to see what was going on. Then everything happened very quickly. The police came. After listening to what the people who live in the shacks in the neighbourhood had to say about Irene being beaten up every day, Irene's mother was arrested for child abuse and taken to police custody.

Of course, they could not leave Irene with her drunken father and so they took her to safety at Blessed Gérard's Care Centre. Irene's mother was quite cool and unrepentant.

The next morning, the doctor on duty at Blessed Gérard's Care Centre examined Irene thoroughly. Irene was to stay in the Care Centre's infirmary to receive intensive care and lots of love and so that she could be monitored over the next few days. Later she was transferred to Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.

Irene is still living with the other children in the children's home and is developing wonderfully. She will stay with us until after the court hearing. She is a beautiful little girl and enjoys all the love, care, good food and security she gets at Blessed Gérard's Children's Home.