In 1993, the country of Burundi was engulfed in a civil war that would claim 300,000 lives. But a brave woman named Marguerite Barankitse rescued about 300,000 children from persecution by starting a mission at the Catholic diocese where she worked. The mission would grow to be an environment where children and other refugees could be safe during the war. Now, over 20 years later, Barankitse is a recipient of the Aurora Prize For Awakening Humanity.
According to their website, the Aurora Prize’s purpose is to award a person who has shown actions that have had an “exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.” The winner will be honored with a US $100,000 grant and nominate other organizations that have inspired their work for a $1,000,000 grant. Barankitse is the first recipient of the award and George Clooney, who is a co-chair of the Aurora Prize selection committee, presented the award to her.
“Marguerite Barankitse serves as a reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice,” said Clooney at the awards ceremony via CNN .
In her award speech Barankitse said:
Our values are human values. 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. This prize is consolation for the whole of Burundi’s people.
Barankitse also opened a hospital in 2008, which has treated 80,000 patients. Currently she is helping Burundian refugees in camps along the border. She is planning to make sure her $1 million goes to an organization that sends children in the Burundi region to school and to help young people who suffered injuries during the civil war.
Salute to Ms. Barankitse!