Maggy Barankitse

Marguerite Barankitse, better known by her nickname “Maggy”, has always lived an extraordinary life. Born in Ruyigi in 1956, she lost her father at the age of six. Her mother, who was only 24 at the time, did not remarry and devoted her life to caring for Maggy and her brother Apollinaire. Along with her mother and brother, Maggy grew up with her extended family and eight children adopted by her mother. This way of living, in a spirit of sharing, since her childhood, accompanies Maggy throughout her life. Maggy studied to be a teacher. She continued her theological studies for three years in Lourdes (France). Back in Burundi, she taught French in a secondary school in Ruyigi, and supervised students after class. Only 23 years old, Maggy adopted one of her students, Chloe, who had been orphaned for a long time. In the years to come, Maggy welcomed four more children into her home. She raised them as if they had always been part of her family, without ethnic distinction. After studying administration in Switzerland in the late 1980s, Maggy returned to Ruyigi and began working as secretary to the bishop, a position she continued to hold until October 24, 1993.

October 24, 1993: Chaos in Ruyigi

In October 1993, Burundi was in tension. In Ruyigi, chaos struck on October 24. Maggy was forced to helplessly witness the slaughter of 72 people who were hidden with her in the diocese. The violence was brutal, but Maggy managed to convince the killers to spare 25 children. Maggy then took refuge in the home of Mr. Martin, a German development worker living in Ruyigi. She would spend the next 7 months there; think about what would be the next step for the children, who were always with her. The civil war became more and more violent and more and more children appeared every day on the front steps of Mr. Martin's house.
The News quickly spread in this general disaster. That of this woman who dared to take charge of all the orphans who presented themselves at her door: Hutus, Tutusis, Twas, Congolese, Rwandans ... Maggy makes no distinction. Maggy and her children survive thanks to donations and support from the Diocese of Ruyigi and the community of Burundi. International NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Action Aid, Caritas International, Secours Catholique, which were present in Burundi and a growing number of friends from Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, France, Luxembourg also contributed.

The birth of Maison Shalom

Faced with this situation, Maggy realizes that her mission will be to fight against the hatred and indifference that ravage the region of the great lakes by giving to these children, then to the 47,000 who following, an alternative to hatred: it will be a house of peace and love, where the life of every human being and his dignity would be respected. It will be "Shalom House"

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