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April 25, 2016

Founder of African Orphanage Wins Prize in Memory of Armenian Genocide

Marguerite Barankitse, who founded an orphanage in Burundi and saved thousands of children from genocide in the 1990s, was announced Sunday as the winner of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an award created in memory of the Armenian genocide, The New York Times reports.

Ms. Barankitse started Maison Shalom in the 1990s amid a violent conflict in Burundi between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. The organization provided shelter for Burundian orphans regardless of ethnic background. She was forced to leave the country after receiving death threats for protecting Hutu children but reopened the orphanage in neighboring Rwanda and has expanded its mission to help children with AIDS in Central Africa.

Ms. Barankitse will receive $100,000 and can direct $1 million toward organizations that inspired her. She plans to give the money to the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess Foundation of Luxembourg, the Jean-François Peterbroeck Foundation, and the Bridderlech Deelen Foundation of Luxembourg. The groups work to help child refugees and fight poverty.