The world continues to witness a number of humanitarian disasters spurred by ethnic or religious intolerance. These tragedies, and their undercurrents, reflect deep-seated challenges requiring ethical leadership rooted in courage, compassion and determination. The need for empathy and selfless service is more important than ever.
In 1993, ethnic tensions in Burundi erupted into a violent, 13-year civil war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. In response, and at great personal risk, Marguerite Barankitse founded Maison Shalom (House of Peace), a community where Hutu and Tutsi children — most of them orphaned — receive care, education and support as they begin their lives. Through strength and creativity, Ms. Barankitse built an internationally recognized organization that has saved 30,000 children and served 80,000 Burundians seeking medical care. Ms. Barankitse and Maison Shalom are testaments to the power of leadership and compassion.
On April 13, the Baker Institute honored the mission and work of Ms. Barankitse, who shared the story of Maison Shalom — and of her commitment to the prevention of violence and genocide and to the stabilization of Burundi, now and in the future.
Ms. Barankitse received the James A. Baker III Prize for Excellence in Leadership. This event was held under the aegis of the Baker Institute Director’s Lecture Series.
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The Honorable Edward P. Djerejian
Director, Baker Institute
The Honorable James A. Baker, III
Honorary Chair, Baker Institute
Marguerite (Maggy) Barankitse is an internationally acclaimed humanitarian devoted to improving the welfare of children and challenging ethnic discrimination. She is the founder of Maison Shalom, a complex of schools and hospitals, and a network of care across Burundi and Rwanda. Maison Shalom began in 1993, during the worst days of Burundi’s civil war, after Ms. Barankitse, a Tutsi, tried to hide 72 of her Hutu neighbors to keep them safe from persecution. In the weeks that followed, she set up a shelter to aid children in need.
In 24 years, Maison Shalom has grown into a large nongovernmental organization with the purpose of improving the lives of Burundi’s children through integrated and sustainable development that aims to foster a lasting peace in Burundi. Maison Shalom has served tens of thousands of Burundians in the spirit of overcoming ethnic hatred and violence.
Ms. Barankitse is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity (2016), the Opus Prize (2008), the Prize for Conflict Prevention (2011), UNESCO (2008), the Nansen Refugee Award (2006), the Four Freedoms Award from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (2004), the Voices of Courage Award of the Women’s Commission for Women and Refugee Children (2004), the World Children’s prize (2003), the Juan Maria Bandres Prize for Asylum Rights (1998), and the French Government’s Human Rights Prize (1998).
6:00 pm — Reception
6:30 pm — Presentation