Marguerite Barankitse

Inaugural laureate of Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

1957 - present

Marguerite Barankitse is a Burundian humanitarian, known for her invaluable contribution during the Burundi Civil War in 1993. After the assassination of the Republic's first democratically elected President, the Hutus and Tutsis were involved in a brutal struggle where over 300,000 people were killed. ‘Maggy’ adopted dozens of children, both Tutsi and Hutu, and went through a lot of dangers, often risking her life to save them from perishing. With the help of European and Burundian friends she organised a help network that managed to provide care for the growing number of children. In May 1994 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ruyigi agreed to transform a former school into a children's shelter called 'Maison Shalom' (“shalom” means peace).

Since the terrible events of 1993, Maggy and her team have saved and educated over 20,000 children.

Since then, orphans from families destroyed by Aids have added to her work, and her little association continues to do its job. Under Maggy's leadership they have created the City of Angels to recuperate children from all backgrounds. 130 Angel's homes have been created in the various regions of Burundi. Many of those children that she saved have grown up and returned to their regions to start their own Angel's homes.

When receiving the inaugural Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity in 2016, Marguerite 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”.