In approximately one month, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity will be awarded to one of four candidates that have been nominated. The prize itself was announced last April at an event to commemorate the Armenian genocide.
It was founded by Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, as well as Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan, two other philanthropists of Armenian heritage. The prize will be given “on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors” to a person “whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.” The winner receives $100,000 and designates an organization that inspired his or her work to be the beneficiary of $1 million.
The finalists consist of Marguerite Barankitse, Dr. Tom Catena, Syeda Ghulam Fatima and Father Bernard Kinvi. Barankitse cared for thousands of orphans and refugees during Burundi’s civil war. She is credited with saving roughly 30,000 children and has opened a hospital that has treated more than 80,000 patients. Dr. Catena is the sole doctor at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. He is the only doctor available to half a million people.
Fatima is the general secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Pakistan which works to liberate indentured laborers in Pakistan. It has freed thousands from indentured servitude to date, including more than 20,000 children. Father Kinvi is the head a Catholic mission in the Central African Republic. When sectarian war broke out in the CAR, Father Kinvi provided sanctuary and aid to refugees, including hundreds of Muslims. In Kinvi’s words, “I did not check their religion.”
“All four finalists are being recognized because they have found the courage to fight against injustice and violence inflicted upon those most vulnerable in their societies,” said Gregorian. “We created the Aurora Prize not just to honor, but to support the unsung heroes who reclaim humanity and stand up to such oppression and injustice. One hundred years ago, strangers stood up against persecution on behalf of our ancestors, and today we thank them by recognizing those who act in the same spirit in the face of modern atrocities.”