#WATWB: Mother to 100,000 Children

Posted: 2017/09/29 in Blogging
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In early 90’s a devastating civil war broke out in Burundi between the Hutu and the Tutsi people. Violent murders, rapes, displacements, and appalling suffering became the order of the day. Children were not spared, but were subjected to the same unspeakable atrocities their parents were experiencing. Things were dark.

In these bleakest of days, one woman, a teacher named Marguerite Baranktse, emerged an unlikely hero. When she was only twenty-three, she adopted a young Hutu girl aged thirteen. At first, her relatives did not welcome her decision and urged her to reject the girl, because the girl was from the Hutu people (the enemy) while Marguerite was Tutsi. Only her mother encouraged her.

Marguerite’s entire family was later slaughtered by the Hutu fighters in October 1993. They spared her because of her work.

Nevertheless, she refused to hate the Hutu people. She went on to adopt more children from both the warring Hutu and the Tutsi sides.

She had to defend them and fend for them. She had to watch people die and had to bribe the killers to save the children.

“She set up Maison Shalom, the House of Peace, in 1993, a shelter providing children displaced by Burundi’s civil war with refuge, medical care and education.”

It was an undertaking so risky at the time that people started to think of her as insane. They called her “Maggy the Madwoman”.

As the war went on, the number of her children grew to over 100,000. Later on, her efforts were recognized such benevolent organizations as the UNICEF, WFP, and ActionAid.

She says the name “Maggy the Madwoman” suits her best because what she did was crazy.

“[It is crazy] to decide sometimes alone in the streets, whether to teach love when the others are killing. I would like everybody to follow this madness, to create hope and to break this cycle of violence. To teach love.”

Marguerite’s story is found here.

Marguerite Barankitse

Marguerite Baranktse. Source: BBC


This is the seventh celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Michelle Wallace, Emerald Barnes, Andrea Michaels, Shilpa Garg, and myself.


To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.


  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List
  1. Wow! Marguerite is such an inspiration. Thanks for choosing her story

  2. hilarymb says:

    Hi Peter – her story is definitely worth knowing about … and how humanity can cross people bridges. Amazing – I agree words fail to describe her … I’m so pleased she persevered and refused to be cowed despite all the horrors she encountered and experienced … yet was determined to be a leader for her Burundian peoples … I didn’t know about her, or heard about her work … so thank you for sharing … cheers Hilary

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi. When I heard her story I was so pleased with her I didn’t know what to do. Kenya is going through what the Hutu and the Tutsi people went through back then. Though not all out war, yet. Tribal hostilities here are getting worse. That’s why Marguerite’s story moved me so much. Just when we think the world is becoming worse and worse everyday, someone like her comes along lights up the way.
      Thank you Hilary.

  3. She is very inspiring. I believe we should always spread love, only if we love each other can we understand each other. Very great story.

  4. simonfalk28 says:

    Maggy may have been a madwoman. But mad about caring for her brothers and sisters in the human family. Crossing tribal lines she is truly brave. What an inspiration, Peter. Thanks for sharing this and co-hosting us.

  5. This story made me tear up. Humanity is capable of such love and courage. She’s an angel of love and mercy, and proof that humans can be godlike if they make up their mind.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    If that’s madness, we should all be mad. When people judge acts of kindness as being crazy, things are really wrong. What is more crazy than war? I remember that war and I remember routinely feeling sad when hearing about what was happening to the people and how little was being done to help.

    Thank you for bringing this story to light and thank you for co-hosting this month, Peter.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Thank you Dan. I look at the devastations of war and I recoil inside. I weep. Then I look around me and I see people always preparing for war and I weep some more. I feel sad. The presidential election we had in August was cancelled by the Supreme Court due to irregularities. Since then, tribal tensions are so high, higher than before the elections. Some very dreadful militia-like tribal thugs from the incumbent’s side have been active lately, talking of wanting to protect their people, and there are stories that they are being armed by pro-government politicians. It is terrifying. The Supreme Court blamed the Electoral Authority for the irregularities, but instead of seeking to reform the said body, the pro-government people are singling out a tribe in the Opposition that they feel should be even wiped out. That is the situation here.

      • Dan Antion says:

        I worry about you and your country, Peter. I hope things move in a better direction. I hope evil can be contained. I think about you often, and I include you in my prayers.

      • Peter Nena says:

        Thanks Dan. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

  7. Ally Bean says:

    What an amazing story of courage and hope and madness. I love this woman for who she is and what she’s accomplished. Great story.

  8. What an inspirational and courageous woman. In the middle of madness and devastation, she had to be so strong to continue her work. The emotional toll everything happening around and to her and the children had to be heavy. Thank you for sharing her amazing story with us and for co-hosting this month, Peter.

    • Peter Nena says:

      It does sound crazy what she did. It takes more than courage; it takes the whole spirit, I think. But she managed and that’s the most overwhelming thing. Thanks.

  9. Susan Scott says:

    Thank you Peter for this extraordinary story of Marguerite’s Madness. In amongst the madness of the tribal hostilities she used another kind of madness. May she always and in all ways be honoured for her wonderful kindness and indomitable spirit. I’m sorry to hear about Kenya’s electoral problems and the ensuing hostilities – we hear about it here in South Africa, where we also have unbelievably violent outbreaks of factions ..

    • Peter Nena says:

      Thanks Susan. Marguerite’s spirit is too powerful. And the strength of her love for the children can’t even be put in words.
      Thank you for your kind words about the situation in Kenya. I keep thinking how sad it is that one of the most free and innovative times in human history had to come with politics. It is like being served an excellent meal laced with just enough poison to break a person at the joints.

  10. Such a beautiful story of courage and unity consciousness – exactly the kind of inspiration we need in these times of increasing separation and divisiveness. May we all be so “mad” as Maggy! And may we all find our way onto the path of peace.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Indeed, Deborah. We need more like her, showing such unequalled love, resilience and strength in this steadily disintegrating world. Thanks.

  11. BellyBytes says:

    It is truly remarkable how a single woman can touch so many lives

  12. datmama4 says:

    WOW. If that’s crazy, then it’s the best kind of crazy, bolstered by courage and love.

  13. Peter Nena says:

    The best ever! I’d love to be THAT crazy. Thanks.

  14. lindacovella says:

    An amazing woman, and so wonderful to discover people like her are in our world!

  15. JoAnna says:

    Marguerite Baranktse is not the crazy one. She is a beacon of hope and sanity in a world of warring madness. Thank you, Peter, for sharing the hope.

  16. Shilpa Garg says:

    Marguerite’s work is simply incredible. That she adopted and saved so many children despite strong opposition speaks volumes about her courage and determination. She is truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing her story Peter!

  17. A powerful example of love standing up to hate. It reminds me so much of a scene in the movie “Gandhi,” when Gandhi tells a Hindu man to go out and find a Muslim orphan, adopt the orphan and bring him up as a Muslim, not a Hindu. I loved that idea of putting oneself in another’s place in order to learn and understand.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Thanks Gina. Love is always powerful. When we look back in history, the best parts are the ones in which love reigned over hate. The wars just make us tired.

  18. She was very brave and determined. I hope that someday others will stand for love and peace in such a way that others will see it and wish to keep it going worldwide. No strings attached. Just love and peace for all humankind. Thanks for sharing this story and for being a part of #WATWB

  19. People like Marguerite leave me awestruck, so courageous.

  20. Fil says:

    What a remarkable woman – such bravery in the face of so much horror is an example to the world. Thank you for telling us about Marguerite Peter.

  21. […] Peter chose an inspiration in Marqerite: “[It is crazy] to decide sometimes alone in the streets, whether to teach love when the others are killing. I would like everybody to follow this madness, to create hope and to break this cycle of violence. To teach love.” Read more here. […]

  22. I remember those turbulent times in Burundi…
    Marguerite is an angel! A blessing sent from God!
    I’m always moved by these selfless acts…and it gives me renewed hope in mankind whenever I read a story involving people like Marguerite.
    Thank you, Peter.
    #WATWB #InDarknessBeLight

  23. What an inspiration, this woman! I remember hearing about the Hutu-Tutsi “wars” on the news… I was probably too sheltered, too naive, to grasp the full tragedy then. It only fell into place when I saw Hotel Rwanda (ten years later)… What an awful, awful example of the horrors we visit on each other. Thank you for sharing Marguerite’s story, Peter. Like Michelle says, these stories renew hope in so many ways.

    And thanks for the visit over at Quiet Laughter earlier! Much appreciated 🙂

  24. Such a powerful story of an inspirational woman, it brought tears to my eyes. Marguerite’s story is a lesson in love, perseverance and compassion. Thanks for sharing this and for being a part of #WATWB!

  25. Inderpreet says:

    What courage and faith! Salute to Maggy, she has brought hope to so many lives. Thank you for sharing.

  26. oh what a story!! If she is mad then we should all be mad like that!! Incredible!!

  27. It’s hard to imagine dealing with the murder of your entire family; to embrace the children of the enemy, to care for them and fight for them, takes incredible heart, spirit, and courage.

  28. What a wonderful, encouraging story of love, peace and humanity this is. Thank you for sharing it with us. Maggy the Madwoman, I’m sure, has instilled in those children the same love and humanity that drives her. Bless them all.

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