Humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse receives Baker Prize

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, the honorary chair of Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, presented Burundi humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom (House of Peace), with the James A. Baker III Prize for Excellence in Leadership April 13.

In 1993, ethnic tensions in the African country of Burundi erupted into a violent, 13-year civil war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. In response, and at great personal risk, Barankitse founded Maison Shalom, a community where Hutu and Tutsi children — most of them orphaned — receive care, education and support as they begin their lives. Through strength and creativity, Barankitse built an internationally recognized organization that has saved 30,000 children and served 80,000 Burundians seeking medical care.

“Tonight’s honoree truly awes me,” Baker said at the event held in Baker Hall’s Doré Commons. “She reminds me that true leadership is found in simple acts of decency.” (Photo by Michael Stravato)

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.