Builder of hope, Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse an unsung African heroine who has done remarkable humanitarian work in Burundi saving the lives of over 30 000 orphans and vulnerable children has been awarded the $1 million Aurora Prize.
U.S. actor and humanitarian George Clooney presented the inaugural award to Barankitse at a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia this week.
Presenting the award, Clooney said, “Marguerite Barankitse serves as a reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice,”
“By recognizing Marguerite Barankitse’s courage, commitment and sacrifice, I am hopeful that she can also inspire each one of us to think about what we can do to stand up on behalf of those whose rights are abused and are in most need of our solidarity or support.”
In recognition of her remarkable deeds, Barankitse will receive a $100,000 grant and to continue the cycle of philanthropy, she will donate the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organisations that have inspired her work, Aurora says.
She plans to donate to three organisations that advance aid and rehabilitation for child refugees and orphans, and fight against child poverty namely:
- The Fondation du Grand-Duc et de La Grande-Duchesse du Luxembourg,
- Fondation Jean-François Peterbroeck (JFP Foundation) and,
- Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg.
Barankitse created Maison Shalom House of Peace in 1993 to save vulnerable and displaced children, victims of the Burundian genocide and its ugly aftermath. A victim of the violence, Barankitse sought to build “houses of peace” to protect children irrespective of ethnicity. Maison Shalom has since opened centres in all Burundi’s provinces and neighbouring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, offering assistance to refugees.