As a child living in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR), Madeleine Shukurani witnessed traumatic human rights abuses. Vowing to help the victims rather than remain silent, Madeline began working for a non-governmental organization (NGO) that reintegrates former child soldiers into their communities at age fifteen.
In March 2007, Madeleine traveled to New York City to participate in a panel entitled “Girls Speak Out” at the United Nations (UN), moderated by anchorwoman Katie Couric. After recounting her experiences growing up in the DCR where many girls were raped and used as sex slaves, Madeleine implored the UN and International Criminal Court to prosecute individuals who conscript child soldiers and to end the war. Residents of Madeleine’s home community heard her speech, which was broadcast on the UN Radio. As a result, it is no longer safe for her to return home. She has not seen or spoken to her family since waving goodbye to them at the airport in Burundi.
Currently, Madeleine lives in Brooklyn with her legal guardian’s family. She is one of the top students in her graduating class at Brooklyn International High School, where she is active in the Model UN program. Madeleine interned in the Leadership Department of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). There, she worked as a peer trainer and assisted ADL President Abraham Foxman. Madeleine will attend college this fall and plans to study International Relations and Human Rights.