Marguerite Barankitse, Catholic Humanitarian, Wins the Aurora Prize

via the Aurora Prize:

Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi was named as the inaugural Laureate of the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. At a ceremony held in Yerevan, Armenia, Barankitse was recognized for the extraordinary impact she has had in saving thousands of lives and caring for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi.

As she accepted the award from Aurora Prize Selection Committee Co-Chair George Clooney, 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.”…

Marguerite Barankitse saved thousands of lives and cared for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi. When war broke out, Barankitse, a Tutsi, tried to hide 72 of her closest Hutu neighbors to keep them safe from persecution. They were discovered and executed, whilst Barankitse was forced to watch. Following this gruesome incident, she started her work saving and caring for children and refugees. She has saved roughly 30,000 children and in 2008, she opened a hospital which has treated more than 80,000 patients to date.

via Catholic Herald:

Clooney said she was a “reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice”.

Many of Barankitse’s own family and friends were killed in Burundi’s conflict, some “right before my eyes,” she said, but “I had my (Catholic) faith and I kept hearing the Lord’s message, and it was ‘Do not be afraid, I am with you,’” Barankitse told Catholic News Service.

She added: “If God had not been with me, I would have probably tried to take my own life. We need to support each other as a human family, and to say ‘never again!’ No more dictators who oppress the people and receive money and arms from the international community. How is it even possible that these tyrants exist in the 21 century? We must take appropriate measures.”