Seattle University and the Opus Prize Foundation have announced that Marguerite Barankitse will receive the $1 million Opus Prize in recognition of her fifteen years of work to provide safe havens to thirty thousand child victims of ethnic strife in Burundi, Africa.
Barankitse established Maison Shalom in 1993 to serve as a home for twenty-five children orphaned after a violent attack by ethnic Tutsis. The organization has grown into a multi-service agency that works to heal and support young people and families. Its five hundred small houses, or "children villages," nurture and support children so they may be reintegrated into loving families. The organization also focuses its efforts on education, health, vocational training, and reconciliation. Maison Shalom recently opened a hospital, and its model is being replicated in Rwanda and the Congo.
In addition, two other social entrepreneurs were honored with $100,000 Opus Awards. Michael Woodard, founder of Jubilee House Community in North Carolina and the Center for the Development of Central America, has spent the past fifteen years promoting self-sufficiency among Nicaragua's poorest citizens through education, microcredit, agriculture, and technology initiatives, while Krishnammal Jagannathan, founder of Land for Tillers' Freedom, has spent forty years fighting for land rights and the self-empowerment of women in Tamil Nadu, India.
"We are thrilled to be recognizing and supporting three amazing entrepreneurs for their transforming, faith-driven work throughout the world," said Opus Prize Foundation executive director Amy Sunderland. "These individuals show us that change is possible. They are an inspiration to us all."
For more information about this year's Opus Prize winners, visit the Opus Prize Foundation Web site.