Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan, co-founders of the Aurora Prize announced today in Yerevan the five finalists for the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
The award was launched in 2015, the centennial of the Armenian Genocide to honor those individuals who have devoted their lives in the pursuit of helping others. According to the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, the award seeks to empower modern-day saviors who offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and thereby continuing the cycle of giving internationally. An Aurora Prize Laureate will be honored each year between 2015 and 2023 in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923.
The 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate will be announced in Yerevan on May 28, the day that Armenians recognize and celebrate the short-lived independence of the First Republic of Armenia. The Laureate will receive a $100,000 grant as well as the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations for a further $1 million award.
The following are the nominees for 2017:
Fartuun Adan and Ms. Ilwad Elman, Founders of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, Somalia
Mother and daughter team who are unwavering in their mission to protect human rights, women’s rights, and facilitate peace building, development and the rehabilitation of child soldiers amidst insecure and dangerous conditions in Somalia.
Jamila Afghani, Chairperson of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization, Afghanistan
A polio victim who accidentally received the gift of reading, Jamila Afghani has dedicated her life to bringing reading and education to girls and women in Afghanistan, while enlisting the help of Muslim leaders of faith in her mission.
Muhammad Darwish, Medical Doctor at the Madaya Field Hospital, Syria
A student of dentistry returned to his hometown in Syria and took on the full responsibilities of a medical doctor, began to perform medical procedures, offered care and maintained meticulous documentation of the conditions of patients, many of them children, affected by persisting violence, thus bringing international attention to the besieged area.
Denis Mukwege, Gynecological Surgeon and Founder of the Panzi Hospital, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
An obstetrician turned gynecological surgeon who is providing physical, psychological and legal support to more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, while fearlessly seeking to bring to justice those responsible.
Tom Catena, Surgeon at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan
A Catholic missionary and doctor who for nearly a decade remains the only permanent doctor to treat the remote and war-torn region’s half-million population, performing more than 1,000 operations each year. Catena was also nominated for the Aurora Prize in 2016.
Last year, the recipient of the first-ever Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi. According to the selection committee of the Aurora Prize, she was chosen for the extraordinary impact she has had in saving thousands of lives and caring for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi.
When Barankitse received the award in Yerevan she said, “Our values are human values. When you have compassion, dignity and love then nothing can scare you, nothing can stop you – no one can stop love. Not armies, not hate, not persecution, not famine, nothing.”
The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.
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