Andrew Kalisa, a truly remarkable person: Tributes pour in for deceased APRED Ndera school founder

A hero, mentor, father figure to so many, a beloved boss, a strong source of inspiration, as well as a diligent and patriotic citizen. These are some of the words former students used to describe Andrew Kalisa, the founder and former head teacher of APRED Ndera, a well-known school in Kicukiro District, in Kigali, who passed away on Tuesday, May 14. Born in 1945, Kalisa was a dedicated educationalist whose impact on education and his students’ lives is being fondly remembered by many, including Christine Ashimwe, a Class of 2003 alumni who penned a tribute stating that: “As our leader, he graced our lives with wisdom, compassion, and an unwavering dedication to education. Mr. Kalisa knew that there was a gift in each and every one of us and he pushed us to our limits to excel. “As a mentor, he possessed a rare gift – the ability to ignite the flames of curiosity and passion within each of his students.” ALSO READ: Honouring the remarkable life of educationist Andrew Kalisa For Jesse Shyaka, another former student, Kalisa was truly a remarkable individual whose dedication to his students went beyond the confines of a typical school leader. Shyaka said: “His willingness to let students study without school fees, believing he was investing in the future of the nation, exemplifies his selflessness and commitment to education. “Kalisa’s caring nature, integrity, and emphasis on patriotism and serving the country have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on all those whose lives he touched.” Shyaka noted that Kalisa’s daily advice and guidance will forever be cherished. “They were not just words spoken in passing, but valuable lessons meant to shape and mould the character of his students. May his legacy continue to inspire countless others to follow his example of compassion, generosity, and a deep love for the betterment of society. May Kalisa rest in eternal peace, knowing that his contributions to the lives of his students and the nation as a whole will never be forgotten.” Clementine Muhire highlighted Kalisa’s role as a parental figure. “He was our parent during our time at school. He not only contributed to the education we have, making the alumni of the school prominent individuals but also mentored us in discipline and hard work. He was a true legend in the lives he touched.” I am who I am today because of him Dr. Gerard Mbabazi, who attended the school from 2005 to 2010, said the departure of his former headteacher “has hit me hard.” Mbabazi, a doctor in Kigali specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, added: “Many thoughts and memories raced through my head. I am extremely lucky to have had him as a mentor, father, and teacher. “I am who I am today because of him. He is gone, but his spirit will live on forever in the hearts and minds of many of us he touched. Rest easy, soldier.” Karemera Umwali, another former student, emphasized Kalisa’s unmatched discipline. She said: “Without Kalisa's discipline which was instilled in many of the students at APRED Ndera, some of us wouldn't be where we are today. He will never be forgotten, and his legacy in the education sector will always be cherished.” Umwali said that Kalisa's passing marks a deep loss for the APRED Ndera community, but his legacy of compassion, dedication, and educational excellence will be sustained. Faith Busingye recalled her former headteacher’s unconditional love for students. She said: “He used to send skinny students to Manuel, the canteen guy, for a cup of milk, daily, so that they could gain weight and look healthy. He granted special care to students with ulcers, ensuring they ate matooke every lunchtime. For such reasons, we referred to him as umubyeyi wacu, [our parent] because of the care he gave us.” “He would stand at the dining hall’s entrance whenever they cooked meat to ensure students were served enough. If students claimed they missed meat, he would personally ensure a cow was slaughtered. He was a listener, a mentor, and a leader who would not tolerate misbehaviours, suspending students for two weeks to return with better manners. May his soul rest in peace. The entire APRED Ndera fraternity is grieving,” she said. Joshua Tahinduka, a soft skills trainer who was a teacher at the school from 2009 to 2011, said his very first encounter with Mzee Kalisa could not have come “at a more perfect time.” He said: “I had just finished my high school, unsure of what I wanted to do or be, and like an angel God had sent me to, he hired me as an O-Level teacher and much to my surprise, he allowed me to teach chemistry, his favourite subject. I got more than a headteacher, or even a boss. He was my mentor, father figure, and a strong source of motivation to pursue excellence, diligence and patriotism. “I cannot forget the many times he would call me to his office, lock the door and either admonish me, or teach me how best to handle a challenging class or even give me a crash course on patriotism and what makes our country unique. He encouraged me to aim higher and join university, urging me not to be comfortable where I was. My three years at Apred Ndera were the best thing that happened to me. Decades later, I borrowed a leaf from my teaching experience to build a career in training others; something I would never have imagined.” “My story is one for countless other young people that Mzee Kalisa gave an opportunity to work at Apred, and, in so doing, learn invaluable lessons that no other person would have taught us. If the words of John Bunyan; ‘you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you’ are anything to go by, today, as we mourn the passing of a hero, a mentor, a father, and beloved boss, I find solace in the fact that Mzee Kalisa Andrew lives in us through the countless wonderful deeds he invested in us, and exemplified.”

Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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