1 January 1957, Ruyigi, Ruyigi Province, Burundi
Marguerite Barankitse is a Burundian humanitarian.
Barankitse began providing food and shelter to 25 children on October 25, 1993, one of the worst days of the Burundi Civil War. She saw many people brutally killed before her very own eyes and gathered 25 children who were there as well so she could help them. With the help of European and Burundian friends she organized a help network that managed to provide care for a growing number of children. In May 1994 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ruyigi, Bishop Joseph Nduhirubusa agreed to transform a former school into a children’s shelter called ‘Maison Shalom’.
Her activities expanded to other cities such as Butezi and Gizuru where she opened other children’s shelters.
In 2004 an estimated 20,000 children had benefited from her help, either directly or indirectly.
The scope of her action, as well as the fact that she protects all children without consideration of their origin, Tutsi or Hutu, brought her praise from all corners of the world:
- 1998 : Prix des Droits de l’homme de la République française – Liberté – Égalité – Fraternité (Human Rights award of the French government)
- 2000 : North-South Prize from the Council of Europe
- 2003 : World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child
- 2004 : Voices of Courage Award of the Women’s Commission for Women and Refugee Children
- 2004 : Nansen Refugee Award
- 2008 : Opus Prize
- 2008 : UNESCO Prize
- In June 2009, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children, visited Maison Shalom during a tour of Burundi. In October 2011, the Grand Duchess welcomed Marguerite Barankitse to Luxembourg to open a photographic exhibition in support of Maison Shalom.
- On November 24, 2011, Marguerite Barankitse received the Prize for Conflict Prevention from the hands of Kofi Annan. The Conflict Prevention Prize is awarded every year by the Fondation Chirac, launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac.
- On April 24, 2016 Marguerite was awarded the $1.1m Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an award given to humanitarians in memory of the Armenian Genocide.