Update: In June 2015, Maggy Barankitse was forced to flee Burundi and find refuge in Rwanda after participating in political protests. She continues her work in exile and has built Maison Shalom Rwanda and the Oasis of Peace, a community center for refugees and the surrounding community. She also created the Mahama Elite Center in Rwanda, which works in conjunction with the Mahama Refugee Camp to give refugees, especially children, the care and resources they need. Barankitse serves as chair of the board of directors of Maison Shalom International.
During Burundi’s civil war in the early 1990s, Maggy Barankitse witnessed horrific acts of genocide -- in one night she saw 72 people slaughtered. Out of this experience she created Maison Shalom, a place for Burundi’s orphans to survive and thrive. Built in the village of Ruyigi, Maison Shalom has expanded into a sustainable institution that includes homes, businesses, schools, farms and other enterprises.
Barankitse insists that Maison Shalom is not an orphanage, despite its mission to aid children. First and foremost, she says, it is a story about God’s love.
“Maggy wants to foment a revolution -- she calls it a revolution of love,” said Emmanuel Katongole, founding co-director of Duke Divinity School's Center for Reconciliation who has written a book about Barankitse and other African leaders. “...not only in Ruyigi, in Burundi, beyond Burundi...to the whole world -- a revolution of love.”