is Easter Monday, and after a stressful fortnight of marking and
processing my University course exams, my BP reaching a
crescendo, I decided to pack my bags and head for Kasisi
This one Monday, I had a welcome that evoked in me a sense of
realizing my place at Kasisi. Often the Sisters would, with
bewitching joviality and love, jokingly rebuke me for having
been away too long. Could never get to understand their
conception of time. Their concept of ‘too long’ seems to be a
translation of a week being equivalent to months. In my opinion,
I am never really away that long. I have come to learn to never
mind them. I always tell them I am a prodigal son. I am always
back anyway, whether it takes me a week or months.
This Easter Monday had a resonance that was different. A
resonance that painted a picture of my beginnings at Kasisi.
In the glow of
the setting sun, as the girls opened the gate for me, one of
them said, “Welcome back home, Mr. Mbinji”. Well at least, she
pronounced my name correctly, though the “Mr.”
always makes me think I am bête noire. I prefer being
Over time, the children have had different variants and
pronunciations of my name. “Mr. Mbinji”, the older ones would
get it correctly. As for the little ones, it is always
hilarious. “Mr. Beans, Sister.” I wonder when they ever did see
me in a blue habit! And of course, there is, “uncle, daddy” too.
Anyway, back to the welcome. I felt sad and happy, at the same
time. Sad, because perhaps, I had stayed away too long. But
mostly happy, because, indeed I was home again. That the girl
welcomed me back home, is simply a loving acknowledgement that I
and her belong in the same place and time.
Often it is said, home is where when you go, you are welcome.
But Kasisi has taught me differently. For Kasisi, home is where
when you go, you belong.
then did it happen that I belong?
Well, it is a very short story. Mamusia (Sister Mariola), Mayo
(Sister Jolanta), and the other Sisters all have a similar story
of my first appearance at Kasisi. Rather devious of them, but
pleasant and memorable. Not very different from mine, anyway.
This Easter Monday, sitting outside, watching the brilliant
stars and the clearly visible Milky Way, I went back into memory
lane. Why did I come into Kasisi? Why did Kasisi come into me?
Is there a difference? It has now been slightly over 16 years,
and I will tell you how. Perhaps, the how will answer the
year was 1997. The place was Kaapstad, iKapa, or as it is
commonly known – Cape Town, South Africa. I was by then a year
into maintaining the website for Afronet (the Inter-African
Network for Human Rights and Development) which was based in
Lusaka, Zambia. And it was one of those days when my wondering
mind, reached deeper into realms I had never thought of before.
The internet for charity!
the cold wet days of July 1997, I searched for children’s
charities back home in Zambia. I sent emails to about five or so
charities. All I wrote was that I could develop and host a
website for them as a means of helping them have a wider reach
in terms of intending donors and sponsors. I also did indicate
that I will be doing it at no cost to the charity. At the time I
was sending the emails, I really did not have any reserved
domain for such a project. The idea was to piggy-back the
charities’ websites on the Afronet domain. An idea which
thankfully the head of Afronet went to the moon over. After all,
it would add to Afronet’s image. Well, it did.
an organization concerned with human rights and development,
Afronet recently added to their website an advertising window
for Zambia's largest orphanage..,” OneWorld.net acknowledged
at the time.
the five or so charities I had emailed, only one responded. And
it was Kasisi Orphanage, now commonly known as Kasisi Children’s
Home. The Sister-in-charge, who I did not know at the time, but
who signed herself as Sister Mariola Mierzejewska gave me the
green light. Her last name was a mouthful to me, and I did at
that time wonder what kind of name it was. Couldn’t wait to meet
this nun with a rather strange name.
Anyway, in 1997 Kasisi Children’s Home was born on the internet
under the domain name,
Later it moved to its own domain name,
donated and hosted by Craig Anderson in the UK. Somewhere in end
2008, we lost the domain, and all efforts to buy it back failed.
Fortunately, in 2009 Thierry De Jonghe registered
in Belgium, where it is currently hosted. Thanks to these guys.
I am just still the tardy webmaster!
1998, when I briefly visited Zambia, I decided to visit Kasisi
Children’s Home. I needed to understand more about the place. I
really did not even know where exactly in Lusaka it was located.
I had to ask around for directions. I hit the road with
apprehension as I had now learnt it was way out of town. And the
road was a mess! Kasisi River, I remember calling it for some
years to come. Rainy season, was a think-twice road to use.
When in Kasisi Mission, I got lost and had to ask for
directions, again. Finally, I located the place. It was ethereal
love at first sight. The front had (still has) well tendered
gardens, with breathtaking flowers. And there is 1956, inscribed
on top of the main entrance door. A rather halcyon welcome to
strutted in like I was entering my own home. And this elderly
Sister followed me. “Who are you,” she asked. “I am Mbinji,” is
all I said as if my name was a valid visa to the place. She
really did stare at me. I think she was not charmed at all. I
did look like a lost street adult. Torn Levis, untucked Che
t-shirt and wild-west boots, I guess I did not cut a sight she
was used to at the Home. Especially when such person seemed to
want to roam around, like he belonged. Later, I learnt she
actually did think I was a lost street adult seeking sanctuary
at the Home.
That first day was spooky.
“Hi,” a smiling youngish looking Sister says.
“Hi,” I say and I ask where I could find Sister Mariola. She
walks me to the office. Behind followed the elderly Sister,
still sizing me up. Well, this one is seriously protective of
this place, I thought. The younger Sister quickly left before I
could enter. Guess, she too was wondering if I was indeed a
knocked, and the same Sister who just led me to the office
opened the door.
“Hi,” she said, again. I do use expletives quite often, and I
nearly mouthed one. But well, this was a place run by nuns, I
had to be modest.
“Welcome to Kasisi,” she said.
“But we already met.”
“No”, she replied. Well, I think she must have used a rear door
after leaving me at the main office entrance. Kind of weird of
her, I thought. Fact is, I had not met this one other Sister.
entered, and there was Sister Mariola. A Sister I had only met
through emails and website update pictures. She was rather
different from my mental images of her. In my mind the
Sister-in-Charge, was a stern faced nun in a dull blue habit. A
no-nonsense type. Reminiscent of the Catholic brothers that
taught me at lower secondary school.
That in the pictures she sent, she smiled; I thought she did
that just for the website. Up to that point, I really had never
interacted with nuns. The only nun I think I knew then, was
Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Sister Mariola in person was describable only in two words.
Awesomely magnetic! With time, I came to learn that all of the
nuns and Kasisi itself are actually awesomely magnetic.
With a smile on her face, that reminded me of mom before chiding
us, Sister Mariola really did size me up, too. Looking back, I
really did not cut a figure that was commensurate with the
project I had just started for them. I, in person and I, on the
internet was incongruent!
Then the elderly Sister, Sister Jolanta, and the spooky ones
walked in. Well, they were identical twins. Or the twin angels
of Kasisi as one local newspaper once dubbed them. These are
Sisters Janina and Maria.
That first day, I was appraised by Sister Mariola, Jolanta,
Catherine, Christina, Janina and Maria. They were surely
doubtful of this scrawny looking young man in torn jeans, and
who drove in with a very noisy car (as Sister Catherine later
described my Ford V6). Years later, Sister Mariola and Jolanta
did own up to their apprehension of the intentions of the
scrawny looking young man in torn jeans. Today I am humbled they
did give me a chance. Could be it is divine providence.
perhaps, they believed in Mother Teresa’s saying, “Let no one
ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the
living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face,
kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Indeed, they were kind not to have judged me harshly from my
looks. That day, I left Kasisi knowing I will be back and back
again thereafter. Thus, when I finally returned home, in the
year end of 2001, Kasisi was the first place I visited even
before settling down.
the years after that, my bond with Kasisi strengthened. I do all
sundries of voluntary work for the Home and some benefaction for
them. I even managed to get Afronet to be a benefactor for
Kasisi. But this did not last, as Afronet folded up in 2004.
Yet, I continued, as my belief in Kasisi was not inspired by
Afronet, but by own beliefs and the Sisters themselves. Their
laughter, jokes and love would always resonate around me
whenever I thought of the Home. And of course the little angels
that dwell there! “Mr. Beans, daddy,” are sounds that are always
musical to me.
Looking back today, there is no regret, no worry, and no
questioning why Kasisi came into me. This is because, in giving
myself to Kasisi, Kasisi has also giving itself back to me a
There have been dark periods in my life, and Kasisi has always
been there for me. The darkest was, when I was nursing my HIV+
younger brother. I had nursed one already nearly a decade before
then. He later passed away. For this one, I told myself, not on
my watch again. It was psychologically trying for me. But,
Kasisi and the Sisters stood by me. They nearly brought me to
tears with the unwavering support they gave me. Till today, I
feel I will never be able to thank them enough.
other dark times in my life, I have had to remind them that they
really should not be concerned with me, the street adult or
prodigal son. Like the time I came back from South Sudan sickly.
They picked me up from the airport straight to the Home. In the
sick bay that day, I shed tears of my taedium vitae
(weariness of life), and mostly love.
reminded them that they have two hundred and something children
to look after, but there was no negotiation. Huh, Mamusia can be
stern! Often it is like I am talking to deaf persons. Gosh!
They never listen to my protestations. Sometimes, I think they
have connived to make my life beautifully miserable, theirs too.
Some celestial conspiracy!
Well, perhaps in ending my reminiscence, I should answer the
question, why I came into Kasisi and Kasisi came into me. The
answer is simply that through no predetermined design, I had
just simply walked into a place where angels walk among us.
Ora pro nobis.