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Marguerite Barankitse: Armenia’s example teaches to never give up


Marguerite Barankitse
Marguerite Barankitse

Photo: PAN Photo


Yerevan /Mediamax/. Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Laureate Marguerite Barankitse said that Armenia’s example teaches her to never give up.

She stated this at the press conference after the Aurora Prize ceremony on April 24, answering the question from Mediamax on what she knew about the Armenian Genocide before she came to Armenia and what she discovered during the visit.

“I knew about Armenia from the Bible. I learned about the Armenian Genocide at school. But in these three days, I had a different experience. I saw people here who managed to rebuild their homeland. I wish to thank those three men (co-founders of Aurora Prize Ruben Vardanyan, Noubar Afeyan and Vartan Gregorian), who represent the nation with such values. I saw Armenians here, who were born in France but spoke their native tongue. I feel more confident now, because Armenia’s example teaches me to never give up and fight for my rights,” said she.

Marguerite Barankitse, who devoted her life to taking care of refugees and children, said that USD 1 mln will be divided between the organizations she nominated.

“We will help children, particularly we have to think about education of the children in Eastern Congo, and we ought to take care of 80,000 refugees in Burundi. We should make sure that mothers receive a bit of qualification to start their own businesses,” stated she.

The Aurora Prize Laureate stressed that this award is not only a money reward, but “recognition of suffering” of those under her care.

“Children prayed every day for my victory. From this day, the children and I carry the “never again” belief in our eyes,” said she.

Marguerite Barankitse noted that she’s optimistic and caring, and doesn’t hate even the president who allows crimes in Burundi.

The inaugural ceremony of Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity took place on the day of the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, on April 24, Yerevan.

The renowned international Committee, co-chaired by actor George Clooney and Nobel Prize Laureate in World Peace Elie Wiesel, chose Marguerite Barankitse as the Aurora Prize Laureate from the four finalists. George Clooney awarded her the Prize.

Marguerite Barankitse, from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi, 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.

Marguerite Barankitse will receive USD 100,000 prize money from the founders of Aurora Prize. USD 1 mln more will be divided between charity organizations of her choosing.

During the ceremony, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in partnership with the Aurora Prize, has named Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times as the inaugural recipient of its Integrity in Journalism Award.

Rukmini  Callimachi has exposed the horrific institutionalization of sex slavery by ISIS, linked child labor in gold mines in Senegal to banks in Switzerland, and revealed massacres committed by government forces from the Ivory Coast to Mali. At a time when risks to journalists are at an all-time high, Callimachi is driven by a deep-seated motivation to tell these stories.

The anchors for the Aurora Prize ceremony were opera singer Hasmik Papian and Washington Post columnist, writer David Ignatius.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II attended the ceremony.

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