Famous English movie actor, Clive Owen, has dedicated his UNESCO award to two Rwandan brothers who played a role in saving people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Owen, who is also a Goodwill Ambassador for Aegis Trust, dedicated the prestigious award to Jean-Francois Gisimba and Damas Gisimba, who also run an orphanage in Nyamirambo, a Kigali suburb.
During the 20th UNESCO Charity Gala in Dusseldorf, Germany, Owen was presented with the UNESCO award ‘Pyramide con Marni’ in recognition of his humanitarian work.
“Immediately after receiving the award, Owen, handed it to Jean-Francois Gisimba, recognising him and his brother Damas, for their efforts in saving people during the Genocide,” said Freddy Mutanguha, Country Director of Aegis Trust-Rwanda.
Aegis Trust is an international NGO - founded in Britain - which strives to prevent Genocide anywhere in the world, and has operations in Rwanda, where it helps in the maintenance of Kigali Genocide Memorial.
“We would like to express our deepest thanks to Clive for his role as Aegis Trust ambassador. This dedication is generous and so very much appreciated,” said Mutanguha, who is also a Genocide survivor.
Reports indicate that at the peak of the Genocide, the Gisimba brothers saved the lives of over 400 men, women and children who had taken refuge at the orphanage they still run in Nyamirambo.
Speaking at the ceremony, Owen said that the last time he was in Rwanda, he visited the Gisimba Orphanage and was moved by the work they do.
“When I visited Rwanda with the Aegis Trust last year, I was humbled to hear the story of the Gisimba brothers and consider it a crime that they still struggle to make ends meet at the orphanage – which is why Aegis has vowed to do everything it can to help,” said the actor.
He stressed that it is people like those who give hope, “and are living proof that whether in times of great evil or in times of peace, we can all do something to make a difference.”
“I am deeply honoured to receive this award from UNESCO, but it is people like the Gisimba brothers who really deserve our honour and attention”.
The Executive Secretary of National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean de Dieu Mucyo, said that Damas Gisimba deserves recognition.
“Gisimba is a man we recognise for having saved people, even those he saved testify to that,” said Mucyo.
In the statement, the Chief Executive Officer of Aegis Trust, Dr James Smith, noted that education on the Genocide is vital for the young generation to learn from the example of the two brothers.
“They feel they were only doing what anyone in their shoes would have done, but experience shows that actually, when societies become divided, that kind of courage is all too rare,” Smith is quoted in the statement as saying.
He added that such educative initiatives, including visiting memorial sites, are a vital process of learning that’s very much aligned with UNESCO core objectives, “which is why we’re particularly delighted that UNESCO has chosen to honour our Ambassador, Clive Owen, in this way today.”