On 25 April, inaugural Laureate of Aurora Prize Marguerite Barankitse from the Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi visited UWC Dilijan. The students were looking forward to meeting her and couldn’t wait to take turns asking questions. The humanitarian work she has been carrying out during the Burundi Civil War was a true inspiration for all the students, many of whom come from countries with ongoing conflicts.
Marguerite Barankitse helped children who were left orphaned during the civil war in Burundi between the Tutsi and Hutu populations. In 1993, Barankitse, a Tutsi herself, sheltered a group of Hutus at the Catholic diocese where she worked.
Meeting with her was a great honour and privilege for the students who had a chance to see a real hero who has put her own life at risk many times to save more than 30 000 children.
While receiving the prize on 24 April, she said: “When you have compassion, dignity and love then nothing can scare you, nothing can stop you – no one can stop love. Not armies, not hate, not persecution, not famine, nothing.”
Along with the $100 000 grant that comes with becoming an Aurora Prize Laureate, Barankitse received $1,000,000 that she is going to direct to several organizations that have inspired her work. Her organizations of choice were: Fondation du Grand-Duc et de La Grande-Duchesse du Luxembourg, Fondation Jean-François Peterbroeck (JFP Foundation), and the Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg. All these foundations have supported Barankitse in her humanitarian initiatives and now she is continuing the cycle of giving through contributing to their work. She said: “I chose them because these people supported me and never abandoned me, even in difficult times. They have the same values as me and as the Maison Shalom – compassion, friendliness, dignity, and generosity which cost nothing.” On 25 April representatives of the mentioned organizations visited UWCD as well. They had a pleasant tour with the students, while listening to the stories about co-curricular activities that involve work with underprivileged and disabled children. The students were happy to share that they themselves are engaged in good deeds and are hopeful that this is their contribution to a better world.