“Marguerite Barankitse serves as a reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice,” said Mr. Clooney. “By recognizing Marguerite Barankitse’s courage, commitment and sacrifice, I am hopeful that she can also inspire each one of us to think about what we can do to stand up on behalf of those whose rights are abused and are in most need of our solidarity or support.”
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.
Guests also celebrated the exceptional contributions of the other three finalists for the Aurora Prize: Dr. Tom Catena, from Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Pakistan; and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic Priest in Bossemptele, Central African Republic (CAR). To mark the occasion of the inaugural Aurora Prize Ceremony, these exceptional humanitarians will be presented with a $25,000 award from the Aurora Prize co-founders to support the organizations that have inspired their work.
Leading humanitarian figures and Aurora Prize Selection Committee members, including Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani, Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi and Vartan Gregorian, attended and participated in the Aurora Prize Award Ceremony.
“During the selection process for the Aurora Prize, we came across truly remarkable stories of the human spirit, and an extraordinary number of inspiring individuals who are out there making a signficiant difference,” said Vartan Gregorian, member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee and co-founder of 100 LIVES. “We are proud to be able to recognize Marguerite Barankitse and support the impactful work she is doing in a concrete way. She proves the tremendous impact one person can have on so many.”