The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity were established on behalf of the descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and in gratitude to those who risked their own wellbeing to help them survive. At the inaugural awards ceremony, held in Yerevan, Armenia, on April 24, 2016, Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi became the first laureate.
Barankitse was recognized 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. Consistent with the rules of this unique prize, the laureate selected the following three organizations as recipients of $1 million in humanitarian support: the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de La Grande-Duchesse du Luxembourg, Fondation Jean-François Peterbroeck (JFP Foundation), and the Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg.
In a continuing effort to transform the Armenian experience from that of ‘victim’ to dignified, active global citizen, each year’s Aurora Prize ceremony is a celebration of the spirit of shared humanity – and resilience. This time, that celebration will culminate on May 28, in Yerevan, Armenia.
Known as First Republic Day, May 28 embodies the resilience of survivors who, just three years after the Genocide, declared and sustained an independent Armenian Republic from 1918 to 1920. The ceremony and accompanying events will highlight this journey from death to life, from horror to hope, from tragedy to revival.
The 2017 Aurora Prize finalists will be announced on April 24, 2017, the annual day of remembrance for victims of the Armenian Genocide. One of these finalists will then be named as the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate at a special ceremony on May 28, 2017, in Yerevan, Armenia. The Laureate and finalists will be chosen by the Aurora Prize Selection Committee from a total of 558 nominations submitted from 66 countries around the world.
Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, observed: “Underpinning the Aurora Prize is a desire to pay tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to help others survive and thrive. It is gratifying that in such a short time this initiative has found resonance and appreciation in communities and countries around the world.”
Ruben Vardanyan added, “On May 28, Armenian survivors dared to declare independence in the aftermath of the Genocide and in the midst of regional tumult. Their plight embodies our conviction that victims very soon became not just survivors but also active, committed members of global society. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative highlights the promise of transformation from helpless to hopeful, a possibility that is the right of all people.”
During the month between April 24 and May 28, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will organize a global program of activities to profile the inspirational stories of the 2017 finalists, as well as broader humanitarian endeavors. The Aurora Dialogues – a series of thought-provoking discussions featuring international humanitarian figures – debuted in Yerevan during the inaugural Aurora weekend. Those dialogues will also be expanded and shared with communities around the world and will also be a major component of the Aurora May 28 weekend, in Yerevan.