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African woman forgives criminals who murdered her family, visits one in prison

15 giugno 2011

June 14, 2011. ( She’s known as the mother of 10,000 children. Her name is Maggy Barankitse and her story is truly remarkable. “My vocation is to distribute hope, to give love. It’s our human vocation,” she says. 

That mission started in her home country of Burundi in 1993. Thousands were killed as tension between the country’s two main ethnic groups, Tutsis and Hutus, grew to its boiling point. Children were not spared in the murders and neither was her own family. “They tied me and they began to kill in front of me, 72 persons. Since this time, this is my message.”
She survived. Other survivors were mutilated. From that point on, she decided to open the “Maison Shalom,” where orphaned children, from both ethnic groups are welcomed.  Then, she began to help former child soldiers and even children living with AIDS. But her message isn’t just about giving. Most importantly, it’s about forgiveness. She forgave the criminal who burned her three aunts. She even went as far, as to visit him in prison. She says hate kills, but forgiveness frees the soul.

Maggy Barankitse
President, Maison Shalom (Burundi)

“It’s not easy to forgive. To forgive is a gift, but I am Christian. I know that Jesus on the cross said, please forgive them. They don’t know what they do, what they have done.”

A young woman she adopted as a orphaned child, recently got married. One of Maggy’s proudest moments, came during the girl’s wedding day. The man who killed the young woman’s parents was there…

Maggy Barankitse
President, Maison Shalom (Burundi)

“She stood up, and went to him and said, ‘I can forgive you forever, because of our mom. She taught us to standup and to fight in dignity without violence.’”

With help from supporters, Maggy has opened roughly 130 more centers like Maison Shalom, in Burundi, where thousands are helped every day.

While receiving the international prize of the Colombe d’Oro honor in Rome, she said the challenge of helping needy children is big, but the human spirit is even bigger and much stronger.

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