The Maison Shalom
In 1994, Maggie founded the Maison Shalom in Ruyigi, a province in eastern Burundi. The non-denominational and politically neutral Burundian NGO, welcomes children that have been separated from their families by the civil war, whether Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa. It is also a learning center and clinic; this orphanage teaches them brotherhood and peace. The urgency of the Maison Shalom’s mission during the Civil War has given way to the reconstruction and development of a sustainable peace. Thus, Maggy and her team, consisting of one hundred social workers, educators, psychologists, and nurses, are today active on several fronts:
- access to education and learning a trade,
- access to healthcare (with the opening of the hospital Rema in 2008)
- access to culture (in the City of Angels).
When it is impossible for the children to return to their families, either close or removed, Maison Shalom buys land on which it builds housing that becomes real homes for children aged 4-22 years old, under the attentive responsibility of the older children. Starting in 2000, Maggy, assisted by a lawyer, started establishing an inheritance system for orphans: when the children are grown, they become owners of these homes.
Many income-generating activities have been developed for and by the orphans under the supervision of the Maison Shalom: a bakery, a hairdresser, a tailor shop, several farms, a repair shop, a garage, a pharmacy and a guest house.
However, learning about peace and forgiveness is the Maison Shalom’s key function.
City of Angels – to increase access to education:
In a country where 80% of the population is illiterate, access to education and culture is the best defense against hatred. Initiated in 2002 by Maggy in Ruyigi, the City of Angels is intended as a cultural enclave offering children a place to learn and to play.
The city notably offers a library, an early learning center dedicated to early childhood, a knitting and crochet workshop for the deaf and dumb, a craft workshop for the blind, and a workshop to learn multimedia technologies, created in partnership with the Technological Institute of Marne la Vallée. These projects all participate in Maison Shalom’s mission of teaching peace: allowing children to embrace the world and differences.
The centerpiece of this cultural island is “The Cinema of Angels” created in 2003 by Thierry Nutchey, a French director, with the help of “La Maison des Anges”, a French association founded in 2002 to complete the project. This cinema is currently the only one in Burundi outside of those built in the capital.
The development of these cultural activities has helped to open up the region of Ruyigi and to make this province, long considered dangerous, increasingly attractive as evidenced by the proposed creation of an international school and the recent installation of the branches of three banks.
The Rema Hospital:
In 2008, Maggy inaugurated the REMA hospital. This hospital, dedicated to mother and child, focuses primarily on reducing maternal and infant mortality in Ruyigi. It also assists AIDS patients, but with capacity of 100 beds, it cannot cope with the growing demands for care. Currently in progress is a project to create an A2-level nursing school (4 years after the core high school program).