Gisimba Orphanage; where compassion replaces the void of family love

Apart from the sign post that is hanged on the entrance of the place, one may easily mistake Gisimba orphanage for a junior and secondary mixed boarding school, due to the school-like environment that is created by the orphans of all sizes in the place.

Apart from the sign post that is hanged on the entrance of the place, one may easily mistake Gisimba orphanage for a junior and secondary mixed boarding school, due to the school-like environment that is created by the orphans of all sizes in the place.

The buildings some of which are visibly newly constructed are divided into administrative quarters, rooms where children revise and reception rooms.

Entering the premises is embraced by a brown man with a huge gapped smile, after the normal pleasantries he lets me into one of the offices, we start off with the talk about how; in my profile as a journalist came to visit the orphanage to check on how the children are and how the Christmas thrill is taking them.

Our conversation is interrupted by two children who hold his hands and playfully call him “papa Damas” he explains to them how busy he is and promises to join them soon.

He is called Damas Gisimba the head of Gisimba orphanage; he took up the responsibility of from his late father who started the orphanage which has become home to many orphans of different cause including the genocide, HIV/AIDS and others.

The Gisimba family has carried on the humanitarian pedigree for more than 5 decades starting from the current Gisimba’s grandfather.

Damas narrates that when his father was dying, the last thing he told him was never to leave his children [orphans].

Currently the orphanage has over 148 children most of which range between 3 to 22 years of age, and the biggest percentage of these children go to school courtesy of the orphanage initiative and help from other helping individuals and groups.

 Located alongside Kimisagara-Nyabugogo road, Gisimba is one of the oldest orphanages in the country. The orphanage is recorded for having been a hiding place and saviour for a number of the Tusti during the 1994 genocide.

When asked how he managed to save Tutsis, Damas looks up and says it was not him to save them, it was God.  Talking with sudden stillness, he narrates how one morning he hustled with armed militias who wanted to enter the orphanage and kill Tutsi orphans and people presumed to be hiding inside there.

“I confronted them at the gate and told them to back off and go back wherever they came from, you produce kids and you throw them on the streets from where I pick them to forge a life for them, again you want to kill them from here, I wont let you,” Gisimba remarks to have told the killers.

The patron and caretaker at Gisimba, Ildephonse Niyongana disclosed that this Christmas the children are expecting visitors from different settings, musicians to sing for the children and afterwards a foot ball match will be played between celebrities and members of satellite publication.

He also revealed that there is someone who promised to take these kids out during one of the festive days but they haven’t yet confirmed.

Generally management and other people have tried their best to make these children feel loved and lively during festive seasons, last year local musicians and people from Peace and Love proclaimers visited these children and they celebrated Christmas together. 

gahimore@yahoo.com

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