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Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Co-Founder Ruben Vardanyan and Chair Tom Catena to join Maison Shalom Founder and 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate Marguerite Barankitse in Kigali, Rwanda



tember 04, 2019 – Maison Shalom, an international NGO that cares for thousands of orphan children and refugees from war-torn Burundi, will celebrate its 25th Anniversary with a program featuring public talks and discussion panels by distinguished philanthropists and experts on topics such as humanitarianism, education, among other pressing global issues. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Co-Founder, impact investor and social entrepreneur Ruben Vardanyan, and the Initiative’s Chair, Medical Director of Mother of Mercy Hospital and 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate, Dr. Tom Catena will travel to Rwanda this month to take part of the festivities.

“It is a great honor to join the celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of Maison Shalom, just as it has been an honor to award its founder, Marguerite Barankitse, with the inaugural Aurora Prize in 2016,” said Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “Marguerite is a true hero and a living embodiment of the Aurora spirit. Thanks to people like her the Aurora community of exceptional humanitarians continues to grow and help people in need, spreading the message of Gratitude in Action.”

In 2016, Marguerite Barankitse was named the inaugural Aurora Prize Laureate for her extraordinary efforts in saving thousands of lives and her caring for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi. As the inaugural Aurora Prize Laureate, Marguerite Barankitse received a $100,000 grant and $1,000,000 donation to organizations that have inspired her work.

“The Aurora Prize has had a tremendous impact on myself, Maison Shalom and hundreds of people we were able to help with the award. We couldn’t have done it without you – it was a miracle of love and human dignity. Now we’re ready to show the world what we managed to achieve in 25 years, and that’s just the beginning,” said Marguerite Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom and 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate. “I look forward to welcoming the Aurora delegation to Kigali and showing them the same hospitality I’ve experienced in Armenia where everybody treated me like family.”

Marguerite Barankitse started Maison Shalon in the middle of the atrocities of the Burundian Civil War, when she took in the first 25 orphan children offering them a safe space to help re-build their lives. Inspired by a culture of peace and reconciliation, Maison Shalom’s mission has expanded since its creation in 1993 to care for children orphaned by AIDS not just in Burundi, but also in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.



About the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid anywhere in the world and thus continue the cycle of giving internationally. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is Gratitude in Action. It is an eight-year commitment (2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) to support people and promote global projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute and do so at great risk. This is achieved through the Initiative’s various programs: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by more than 440 new supporters and partners. Our Chair, Dr. Tom Catena, draws on his experience as a surgeon, veteran, humanitarian and the 2017 Aurora Prize laureate to spread the message of Gratitude in Action to a global audience. The Initiative welcomes all who embrace a commitment to our shared humanity. 

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations – Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York, USA), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the IDeA Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia). 

Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com