In the early 1990s, amidst the devastation of genocide, Maggy Barankitse saved and then transformed the lives of thousands of Burundi’s traumatised children. In May 1994, the Diocese lent Maggy rooms in its former technical trade school. The children called it “Maison Shalom”. Maison Shalom is one of the very few places in Burundi where Hutu, Tutsi and Twa children and adults continue to live together peacefully. Maggy’s philosophy is to “give people a chance to hold their life in their own hands”. This is achieved through projects that guarantee a sustainable future to the children from Ruyigi and beyond.
MAISON SHALOM : social business in the midst of a civil war
7. Community involvement
- To provide health care, education, homes, and jobs to children and families who have been afflicted by the war
Maggy decided to approach the social problems surrounding her by setting up entrepreneurial activities oriented towards agriculture and livestock at the beginning, and then a manioc mill, a bakery, a sewing and hairdressing workshop, and then in 1998, the Freiden Guest House, a hotel-restaurant with 9 rooms. These activities generated revenue for the youth to use for buying food and even invest in ways to help them build a better and more responsible future.
Between 2001 and 2003, Maison Shalom decided to open a Health Care Center to tend to the childrens’ needs. Today ¾ of young children taken care of by Maison Shalom are infected with the AIDS virus, whose treatment demands great efforts and major financial means.
In 2003, with the help of French journalist Thierry Nutchey, the “Cinema des Anges” is set up in Ruyigi, equipped with 100 places and modern equipment to offer the young people of Ruyigi a window to the wider world and to create more working places. The cinema is integrated into a vast center comprising a swimming pool, a festivity hall, a library for children and adults, a sewing shop, a hairdressing salon, an English training center, a food shop, a fitness room as well as a computer training room.
At the same time, Maison Shalom starts constructing houses in the center of Ruyigi for families (“fratries”). Their comfort is improved by electrification and water supply. The children now live in these houses, which allow Maison Shalom to move from the former Diocese School to its own buildings: the headquarters of Maison Shalom. Today, the NGO employs more than 120 people.Hospital REMA, inaugurated in 2008, has more than 100 beds and employs about 120 staff.
CONTRIBUTION TO COMPANY PERFORMANCE
- Sustainable social businesses at the heart of the community
- Care for orphaned children, search for family members, and reintegration of children in their communities
- Health care, prevention, and awareness building to fight against AIDS
- Schooling and education for children