‘Gisimba Patrick and Gisimba Damas;Like Father Like Son

By.Eric Birori

Patrick Gisimba Rutikanga Patrick is the elder son of Gisimba Mutezintare Damas, the founder of Gisimba memorial center considered as a hero in Rwanda for his courage in the 1994 genocide after hiding more than four hundred people during the genocide.

Gisimba Patrick, he is 24 years old, as he runs the ” Gisimba after School Programme Initiative,” that was initiated in 2014 starting with 30 vulnerable students but the number has since exponentially grown up 150.

Gisimba After school program is aiming to provide the students holistic approach in engaging children with different activities like dancing, poetry, reading and writing among others, to reinforce their skills in different fields.

Patrick Rutikanga, the head of Gisimba after School Programme Initiative, said after being inspired by his father Mutezintare Gisimba Damas since in childhood, he thought he has a responsibility to step in his father’s journey in helping vulnerable children.

“He could always tell me just to love other children even adults, only this gave me that sense of ownership. We were raised together with many orphans, and my father treated us in the same manner like brothers and sisters. It is a great thing inspired to start this initiative”.

Also he said the initiative started has a long term projection where they want to reach more children as much as possible from Rwanda up to regional scope.

He added “we want to reach more children as much as possible; our program is for child protection, there are many vulnerable children in everywhere, if a child protected and given skills is a part of preparing the next generation leaders”.

Stating some challenges they are facing including mentality of the people, capability of reaching children among others, he said the only way to do great work is to love what you do and committing yourself by believing to win these challenges.

As he concluded, The Rwandan Government has demonstrated a strong commitment to the protection of children and their rights but they need advocacy that people should understand children’s rights.

In 2006, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, gave Gisimba Mutezintare Damas(Patrick’s father) an award recognizing his courage. After the genocide, Gisimba had over a thousand children living in his orphanage and in 2015 he recognized in champions of unity “Abarinzi b’Igihango”.

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