The $1.1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity honors unsung heroes working to preserve human life at great personal risk. Dr. Tom Catena was the 2017 Aurora Prize laureate.
In 2018, in addition to his ongoing responsibilities as Medical Director of the Mother of Mercy Hospital, Dr. Tom accepted a position as Chair of the award, where he has overseen the selection process as well as a new global initiative for the award.
The 2021 Aurora Prize was awarded in ceremonies in Venice, Italy, October 8-10. The recipient of the award was Julienne Lusenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo:
“The sixth annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded today to Julienne Lusenge, a human rights defender, co-founder of Women’s Solidarity for Inclusive Peace and Development (SOFEPADI) and Fund for Congolese Women (FFC), who has been helping the victims of wartime sexual violence for years. Her boundless courage and tireless activism have shone a light on the desperate plight of thousands of Congolese women subjected to horrific sexual abuse amidst the civil war in the country, exposing the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.”
You can read more about this amazing woman and her profound accomplishment here.
The Aurora Prize recipient is selected from five Aurora Humanitarians by the Aurora Prize Selection Committee for their courage, commitment and impact. The other four Aurora Humanitarians are:
- Grégoire Ahongbonon (Côte d’Ivoire), founder of the St Camille Association, which helps people in West Africa suffering from mental illness and seeks to end the inhumane local practice of keeping them in chains. Mr. Ahongbonon has nominated three organizations that promote international solidarity and support people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses: CRÉDIL (Lanaudière’s Regional Committee on Education for International Development), L’Arche Canada Foundation, and St Camille Association.
- Ruby Alba Castaño (Colombia), a human rights activist and founder of ASOCATDAME (Meta Association for Peasants, Rural Workers and Defenders of the Environment) who works to protect the rights of thousands of Colombian peasants that are subjected to persecution, forced disappearances and displacement. Ms. Castaño has nominated three organizations that advocate for the rights of the peasant and impoverished communities in Colombia: ASOCATDAME, Claretian Corporation Norman Pérez Bello (CCNPB), and National Federation of Agricultural Unions (FENSUAGRO).
- Paul Farmer (USA), a medical anthropologist, professor at Harvard Medical School, co-founder and chief strategist of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization that brings the benefits of modern medical science to those who need it the most. Dr. Farmer has nominated two organizations that deliver healthcare to the world’s poorest communities and build a global movement of social medicine educators and practitioners: Partners In Health and Equal Health.
- Ashwaq Moharram (Yemen), a physician who provides life-saving support to the starving population of Hodeida, facing a humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of conflict and blockade. Dr. Moharram has nominated two organizations that protect the future of children and provide free healthcare services to the people affected by the ongoing conflict in Yemen: Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders.
Dr. Tom was unable to attend the ceremony but sent his warmest congratulations: