Gisimba is one of the oldest orphanages in Rwanda and was a hiding place and refuge for many Tutsi during the 1994 genocide.
Currently the orphanage has over 148 children most of whom range between three to twenty-two years of age, and has become home to many children who were orphaned due to genocide and HIV/AIDS.
The orphanage is run by Damas Gisimba, son of the founder, who hid over 400 people in the rafters of the orphanage while genocidal killers roamed the streets outside. He is officially considered a national hero of Rwanda.
Sixteen years after the genocide, photographer Peter Cunningham travelled to Rwanda to attend a Peacemaker Institute Bearing Witness Retreat.
Following the retreat, at the invitation of Marie-Claudine Mukamabino of The Kuki Ndio Foundation, he visited the orphanage and photographed these spirited children.
Peter Cunningham is a professional photographer and Zen practitioner based on two islands: New York City and Grand Manan in Canada. For the past 30 years Peter has documented the Peacemaker Bearing Witness Retreats in Auschwitz, Nanjing, and on the streets of New York. Peter is the creator of Still River Books and is co-founder of The Order of DisOrder. Fleet Maull is a trainer, coach, educator, prison reform activist, and peace worker. Fleet is a senior meditation teacher in both the Zen Peacemaker and Shambhala Buddhist communities. Fleet is the co-founder of the Peacemaker Institute, and the founder of Prison Dharma Network and the National Prison Hospice Association. He leads trainings and retreats for prison volunteers and peacemakers throughout the world. Shikantaza Press is the publishing arm of Peacemaker Institute International an organization working to create a more peaceful world through training peacemakers and hosting Bearing Witness retreats around the world.