Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

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. [1]
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. [2]


The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is one of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative projects. [3] 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 . [4]


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 . [5] 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. [6]


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”. [7]

Nomination and Selection Process


Each summer humanitarian organizations and members of the public are invited to nominate individuals. [8]
Any individual or group who commits an extraordinary act of humanity may be nominated to receive the Aurora Prize. Self-appointments are not permitted. [9]


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, [10] 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. [11] [12]

2016 Aurora Prize

Selection Committee

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 . [13]


  • 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. [14]
  • 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. [15]


The Aurora Prize for Awakening Inaugural Humanity Ceremony was held on April 24, 2016 in Yerevan at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex. [16]


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. [17]
Each of the finalists was introduced to a documentary mini-movie directed by Andrey Loshak. [18]


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. [19]


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. [20] [21] [22] [23]

Love transcend all obstacles. Even if we have nothing we can give laughter and tenderness.

Marguerite Barankitse , A Calling to Love [24]


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. [25]


Award Money

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. [26]


The Statuette of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was sculptured by Manvel Matevosyan and called Towards Eternity. [27]

2017 Aurora Prize

Selection Committee

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 . [28] [29] [30]


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. [31] 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. [32] [33] [34]


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. [32]

We all have an obligation to look after our brothers and sisters. It is possible that every single person can make a contribution, and to recognize that a future leader.

Dr. Tom Catena , 2017 Aurora Prize Ceremony. [35]

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

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. [36] [37] [38]

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. [39] [40] [41]

External links

  • 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


  1. Jump up^ “George Clooney, The Aurora Prize And Hope In Armenia” . Forbes. April 29, 2016.
  2. Jump up^ “Aurora Prize ceremony kicks off in Yerevan” . April 24, 2016.
  3. Jump up^ “Beneficiaries of $ 1 Million Aurora Announced Prize” . The Armenian Weekly. August 25, 2016.
  4. Jump up^ “100 years later in New York: #BeArmenian, #BeAlive” . Mediamax. March 11, 2015.
  5. Jump up^ “100 LIVES initiative to kick off in New York today” . Mediamax. March 10, 2015.
  6. Jump up^ ” ‘ 100 LIVES’ Initiative Launched in New York” . The Armenian Weekly. March 11, 2015.
  7. Jump up^ “100 LIVES Opens Nomination Period for New $ 1 Million Global Humanitarian Award” . Asbarez. July 8, 2015.
  8. Jump up^ “Open nominations for Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity” . 9 July 2015.
  9. Jump up^ Aurora Prize FAQ
  10. Jump up^ “Nominations For 2017 Aurora Prize For Awakening Humanity Are Now Closed” . September 10, 2016.
  11. Jump up^ “Humanitarian Leaders to Gather in Armenia for Aurora Prize Ceremony”. 18 April 2016.
  12. Jump up^ Aurora Prize FAQ
  13. Jump up^ “Aurora Prize Selection Meets Committee to Deliberate on Finalists” . Asbarez. March 14, 2016.
  14. Jump up^ “The 100 Most Influential People” . TIME.
  15. Jump up^ “Look at the Four Finalists of the 2016 Aurora Prize” . The Huffington Post. May 5, 2016.
  16. Jump up^ “Aurora Ceremony Prize Kicks Off” . Armenpress. April 24, 2016.
  17. Jump up^ “Inaugural Aurora Prize Held In Yerevan” . Asbarez. April 25, 2016.
  18. Jump up^ “Good can triumph – Andrey Loshak” . A1 +. July 15, 2016.
  19. Jump up^ “Inaugural Aurora Prize Held In Yerevan” . Asbarez. April 25, 2016.
  20. Jump up^ Melanie Gouby (8 August 2016). “After rescuing 20,000 Burundian orphans, Marguerite Barankitse forges on exile” . The New York Times.
  21. Jump up^ “Marguerite Barankitse: Armenia’s example teaches to never give up” . Mediamax. April 24, 2016.
  22. Jump up^ “A Calling To Love” . March 10, 2016.
  23. Jump up^ ” ‘ Why does not one mention Burundi?’ asks winner of new humanitarian award ” . The Guardian. March 10, 2016.
  24. Jump up^ “A Calling to Love” .
  25. Jump up^ “Beneficiaries of $ 1 mln award from Aurora Prize confirmed” . Mediamax. August 19, 2016.
  26. Jump up^ Sophie Morlin-Yron (16 May 2016). “$ 1m prize for heroic Burundi woman who saved 30,000 children from war” . CNN.
  27. Jump up^ “Aurora Prize winner received statuette created by sculptor Manvel Matevosyan” . A1 +. April 25, 2016.
  28. Jump up^ “Aurora Prize: The Selection Committee” .
  29. Jump up^ “Nominations for the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Now Closed” . Hetq. 9 September 2016.
  30. Jump up^
  31. Jump up^ “254 candidates nominated for 2017 Aurora Prize” . Mediamax. September 10, 2016.
  32. ^ Jump up to:b Aurora Prize. 2017 finalists.
  33. Jump up^ AUA Newsroom. June 1, 2017. AUA Co-hosts Conversation with the 2017 Aurora Prize Finalists.
  34. Jump up^ UK Fundraising. 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Awarded to Dr. Tom Catena. 31 May 2017.
  35. Jump up^ “Dr. Tom Catena on the 2017 Laureate Aurora Prize Laureate” .
  36. Jump up^ “Aurora Dialogues Armenia to present a new say to the world” . 22 April 2016.
  37. Jump up^ “First-Ever Aurora Dialogues To Provide Platform For Humanitarian Discussion” . Asbarez. April 19, 2016.
  38. Jump up^ “Humanitarian issues in the center of attention of the world: Aurora dialogues” . A1 +. April 23, 2016.
  39. Jump up^ “Syria Refugee Crisis Underestimated by UK Public” . Daily Mail. 22 April 2016.
  40. Jump up^ “Humanitarian Index reveals preconceptions about refugees” . Impact. May 11, 2016.
  41. Jump up^ “First Annual Humanitarian Index Released” . Aurora Prize. 22 April 2016.

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