Marguerite Barankitse, founder of the Maison Shalom / Burundi, partner of the JFP Foundation for more than 10 years, was designated as the first winner of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, for the exceptional impact she has had, and still has, by saving lives and supporting disadvantaged individuals.
Accepting the award from the hands of George Clooney, co-president of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, Marguerite 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."
As the prize winner, Maggy received a grant of 100,000 US dollars and she continues the cycle of giving by awarding the prize of one million US dollars to organisations that had inspired her commitment. She chose to award the prize to three organisations: the Foundation of the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, the Jean-François Peterbroeck Foundation (Belgium) and the Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg (Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg Foundation).
Marguerite Barankitse said: "I have chosen these foundations because they are led by people who have always helped me without ever turning their back on me, even when times were hard. They share with Maison Shalom and myself the common values of compassion, friendship, dignity, and generosity."
The guests also honoured exceptional contributions from the three other finalists of the Aurora Prize: Dr. Tom Catena from the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nouba mountains in Sudan; Mrs. Syeda Ghulam Fatima, General Secretary of Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Pakistan, and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic priest in Bossemptele, in the Central African Republic.
Created by Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviours, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviours to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid. "During the selection process for the Aurora Prize, we came across remarkable stories of the human spirit, and an extraordinary number of inspiring individuals who are out there making a significant difference," said Vartan Gregorian, member of the Aurora Prize Selection Jury and co-founder of 100 LIVES. "We are proud to be able to recognise Marguerite Barankitse and support the impactful and effective work she is doing. She proves the tremendous impact one person can have on so many. "
To view the Aurora Prize award ceremony: click here
To listen to an interview by the BBC with Maggy Barankitse.
To find out more about Aurora Prize and the 100 Lives Foundation, go to their internal website