YEREVAN — Nominations opened for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an annual international humanitarian award. The Aurora Prize is seeking personal stories of individuals who have put themselves at personal risk for the sake of others. Nominations are open to the public from now until September 9, 2016 at

Anyone can nominate a candidate they believe has overcome great personal challenges to make an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. A description of the Prize criteria and selection process can be found here.

Every year, an Aurora Prize Laureate is honored with a US$100,000 grant, as well as a US$1,000,000 award to be donated to charitable organizations that inspired their work.

“Like the winner of the inaugural Aurora Prize, Marguerite Barankitse, I, too, have witnessed firsthand the terrible atrocities that humans are capable of inflicting upon one another,” said Elie Wiesel, Aurora Prize Co-Chair. “It has given me a profound appreciation for those individuals who put themselves at risk to help their fellow man. These are the very people we are honoring with the Aurora Prize.”

The first-ever Aurora Prize Laureate, Marguerite Barankitse of Maison Shalom, was honored in April for saving and caring for 30,000 children, orphans and refugees during Burundi’s civil war.

“This Aurora Prize was consolation to me for the whole of Burundi’s people,” said Barankitse. “Success is not what you have, but who you are. My mission is to give everyone hope—hope for success, for compassion, and for love. I’m so grateful for the opportunity the Aurora Prize has afforded me, the three organizations I nominated for the award, and the people of Burundi.”

Barankitse is one of many remarkable stories. She and her fellow 2016 Aurora Prize finalists—Dr. Tom Catena from Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front in Pakistan; and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic priest in Bossemptele in the Central African Republic—are just a handful of the extraordinary individuals making a difference around the world.

The Aurora Prize is the philanthropic vision of co-founders Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan, who sought to express gratitude and memorialize those whose heroic actions saved lives during the Armenian Genocide more than one hundred years ago. Continuing the cycle of giving, the Aurora Prize carries forward that legacy of gratitude.

“Last year’s call for nominations helped to shine a light on a number of remarkable humanitarian heroes,” said Co-Founder and Selection Committee Member Vartan Gregorian. “We’re thrilled to again open the call for nominations, during which we hope to unearth even more inspiring stories of selflessness and hope.”

The second annual Aurora Prize will be presented on April 24, 2017, in Yerevan, Armenia.

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