Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is an annual international humanitarian award, which is inducted to recognize and express gratitude to those courageous individuals or organizations that impact on the preservation of human life and advancing humanitarian causes. It is awarded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. 
The Aurora Prize ceremonies take place annually in Yerevan , Armenia starting from 24 April 2016. The laureate of the prize receives more than $ 100,000,000 in prize money. 
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is one of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative projects.  It was officially announced at 100 LIVES launch event in New York on March 10, 2015. The Aurora Prize is inspired by many stories of the Armenian rescue during the Armenian Genocide .
The prize is named after Arshaluys Mardikyan , who after surviving the Armenian Genocide , escaping from slavery and roaming around the world appeared in the US and took the name Aurora Mardiganian. She wrote a book called ” Ravished Armenia “, which presents those dreadful events. This book had then become a script for the moviein which Aurora starred. For many years this film was a crowd-puller in the US, and it plays an important role in raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide . 
100 LIVES is a global initiative rooted in the events of the Armenian Genocide and co-founded by famous businessmen and philanthropists Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan and President of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian .  The project discovers and publishes stories about the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their saviors. These stories are collected through academic research, personal accounts, and stories by the public to the 100 LIVES website. 
The Aurora Prize is the vision of Gregorian Vartan , Nubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan . The prize is conceived out of a desire “to honor those who risk their own safety because of a heightened sense of humanity and responsibility and support life-saving causes in a tangible way”. 
Nomination and Selection Process
Each summer humanitarian organizations and members of the public are invited to nominate individuals. 
Any individual or group who commits an extraordinary act of humanity may be nominated to receive the Aurora Prize. Self-appointments are not permitted. 
All appointments are carefully vetted and reviewed through a rigorous process, monitored by a third-party independent observer. The selection of the finalists and the Aurora Prize Laureate is made by the independent Aurora Prize Selection Committee,  which evaluates the nominees based on the following criteria:
- Courage in overcoming significant risks, going beyond the call of duty for the sake of helping others survive;
- Commitment to moral values such as integrity, freedom, justice, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility and compassion, and direct involvement in helping others survive;
- Impact on their community, country or world at large; a long-term effect in saving lives; inspiration to others to save lives; saving lives of a large number of individuals.  
2016 Aurora Prize
Inaugural Selection Committee of the prize included the late Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel , as well as Oscar Arias , Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee , form President of Ireland Mary Robinson , human rights activist Hina Jilani , form Australian Foreign Minister and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans , President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian , and Academy Award -winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney . 
- Dr. Tom Catena is the only doctor permanently based in Sudan and is responsible for serving 500,000 people in the region. Despite several bombings by the Sudanese government, Dr. Catena resides on the hospital grounds that he may be on call at all times. He was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015. 
- Syeda Ghulam Fatima has worked tirelessly to eradicate bonded labor in Pakistan, one of the last remaining forms of modern slavery. Fatima has liberated thousands of Pakistani workers, including approximately 21,000 children, who have been forced to work in the country. Fatima has survived attempts on her life and repeated beatings during the race of her activism.
- Father Bernard Kinvi became a priest at age 19, after losing his father and four sisters to prolonged violence and illness. Father Kinvi left his home country of Togo to head a Catholic mission with the Central African Republic. In 2012 civil war broke out. Amid the violence, Father Kinvi’s mission provided refuge and health services to those on the sides of the conflict, saving hundreds of people from persecution and death. 
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Inaugural Humanity Ceremony was held on April 24, 2016 in Yerevan at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex. 
The Ceremony was hosted by an Armenian opera diva Hasmik Papian and an American journalist and novelist David Ignatius .
The Ceremony was opened by an animated film directed by Eric Nazarian featuring Serj Tankian’s “Aurora’s Dream” as the soundtrack. 
Each of the finalists was introduced to a documentary mini-movie directed by Andrey Loshak. 
The live music during the Ceremony was performed by the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia conducted by Sergey Smbatyan . The Fanfares of the Ceremony was composed by Stepan Shakaryan . The Statuette, created by Manvel Matevosyan was presented with an excerpt from “Two Suns” ballet by ” Ballet2021 Foundation ” dance troupe (choreographer Roudolf Kharatyan ), accompanied by Avet Terteryan ‘s and Arno Babajanyan ‘ s music. The State Youth Orchestra of Armenia performed an excerpt from Aram Khachaturyan’s Symphony No. 2 (Bell Symphony). The co-hostess, soprano Hasmik Papian performedBarsegh Kanachyan’s “Lullaby”. The Ceremony was for the song ” For you, Armenia ” performed by Gevorg Hakobyan and the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. 
The inaugural Aurora Prize was awarded to Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi for the extraordinary impact of the death and death of civilians.
Barankitse has dedicated her life to providing safe haven to escape violence and abuse. When war broke out in Burundi, Barankitse, has Tutsi, tried to hide from Hutu neighbors to keep them safe from persecution. They were discovered and executed, while she was forced to watch.
Following this horrifying experience, which truly tested her faith in humanity, Barankitse began her work saving and caring for children and refugees. Over the next 20 years Barankitse rescued and educated about 30000 children, and more than 80000 patients to date.    
Marguerite Barankitse , A Calling to Love 
Marguerite Barankitse , as 2016 Aurora Prize Laureate, selected the following organizations to receive a $ 1 million dollar award: Jean-Francois Peterbroeck Foundation, Foundation of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, Bridderlech Deelen. 
As Laureate, Marguerite Barankitse was awarded the $ 100,000 grant and donated the $ 100,000 award to the organizations to advance and recovery for child refugees and orphans, and fight child poverty. 
The Statuette of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was sculptured by Manvel Matevosyan and called Towards Eternity. 
2017 Aurora Prize
The members of the Selection Committee of 2017 Aurora Prize are George Clooney (Co-Chair), Vartan Gregorian , Oscar Arias , Shirin Ebadi , Gareth Evans , Leymah Gbowee , Hina Jilani , Mary Robinson and Lord Ara Darzi .   
The nominations for the 2017 Aurora Prize were opened on June 1 and closed on September 9, 2016. 558 submissions from 66 countries for 254 unique candidates were received.  2017 finalists were:
- Ms. Fartuun Adan and Ms. Ilwad Elman , founders of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, Somalia , mother and daughter are Unwavering Who In Their work to protect human rights , women’s rights , and Facilitate peace building, development and the rehabilitation of child soldiers amidst insecure and dangerous conditions.
- Ms. Jamila Afghani , Chairperson of the Educational and Capacity Development Organization, Afghanistan – a polio victim who has been receiving help from the world of learning faith in her mission.
- Dr. Tom Catena from Amsterdam, New York , surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains , Sudan , a Catholic missionary and doctor who for nearly a decade million population, performing more than 1,000 operations each year.
- Mr. Muhammad Darwish , Medical Doctor at the Madaya Field Hospital, Syria , a student of dentistry who returned to his home town and took over the responsibilities of a medical doctor, the conditions of patients, many of the children, affected by persisting violence, bringing international attention to the besieged area.
- Dr. Denis Mukwege , gynecological surgeon and founder of the Panzi Hospital , Democratic Republic of Congo , an obstetrician turned gynecological surgeon who is providing physical, psychological and legal support to more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence in the war-torn country while fearlessly seeking to bring to justice those responsible.   
The 2017 Aurora Prize for Human Awakening was awarded to Dr. Tom Catena . For the last nine years, Dr. Catena – known by locals as “Dr. Tom “- has been on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital to care for the more than 750,000 citizens amidst ongoing civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement . Patients have been known to suffer from fractures to malnourishment and malaria. It is estimated that Dr. Catena treats 500 patients per day. 
Dr. Tom Catena , 2017 Aurora Prize Ceremony. 
Dr. Catena received a $ 100,000 grant and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by $ 1,000,000 award to organizations of his choice. Dr. Catena will donate the award to three organizations: African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), USA; Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), USA; Aktion Canchanabury, Germany.
Aurora Dialogues is a platform for the most urgent humanitarian issues of the day. The 2016 Aurora Dialogues were held on April 23 in Matenadaran, Yerevan. Participants, including Selection Committee members Hina Jilani, Shirin Ebadi and Gareth Evans, offered their views on the global refugee crisis, the role of women in the humanitarian community, and the role of the media in bringing humanitarian crises to the world’s attention.   
Aurora Humanitarian Index
Introduced during the 2016 Aurora Dialogues, based on 4600 people in six countries. The study ‘s findings revealed the global disconnect between perception and reality vis – à – vis the refugee crisis, by exploring the views of the international community.   
- Aurora Prize Official Website
- 2016 Aurora Prize Ceremony Video on YouTube
- 2016 Aurora Humanitarian Index
- IDeA (Initiatives for Development of Armenia) Charitable Foundation
- Shalom House | Burundi
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