Irene’s Story: The Definition of Resilience

September 14, 2018

Irene is the definition of resilience.

From a very early age, she was a victim and witness to many heinous acts of violence, emotional abuse, and rape.

Irene grew up in the Philippines. By age 4, she had already experienced homelessness. Abandoned by her mother and left to survive with her grandparents who were living on the street, she was forced to grow up fast. Irene went days without food and was constantly exposed to violence.

When she was finally able to immigrate to the US, she was ready for a new start especially since her mother had come back into the picture. But, shortly after getting there she was sexually assaulted by one her step-father’s friends.

Still Irene was determined to make a life for herself in the states. Irene moved away from her mother and step-father, fell in love and had had three beautiful children. But the dream didn’t last long. Everything came crashing back down down when her ex-fiance began sexually abusing her oldest daughter. Irene was shaken to the core, never had she wanted her daughter to experience the same abuse that she had. She again had to find the strength to move forward, uprooting her and her children’s lives.

She settled in Tacoma. Irene found work  at a local hospital as a nurse. While there, she caught Hepatitis-C from one of the patients. It was an especially aggressive form and developed into cancer of the liver. Irene’s health continued to deteriorate as she tried to work through her illness and also contracted lymphoma.

Irene was lucky to have good insurance through the hospital, but unfortunately she was let go since she was not able to work enough. She and her kids were evicted from their home. At this point everything seemed hopeless, and that’s when Irene found the Mission.

All Irene has prayed for was a place where she and her children can live, where her oldest daughter could try to recover from her traumatic experiences and where Irene could make up the money to pay off her eviction and complete one more year of school.

Irene has found that solace at the Mission. Her sarcoma has miraculously healed and she is currently treating her lymphoma. Once she and her family are back on their feet she’d like to return to the Philippines, her homeland. It has a special place in her heart, especially the local food.

“I’m forever grateful [to the donors]. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to be home with my kids…take care of my illness…(and) get back on my feet.”

To donate and help others like Irene, please visit