The $1 Million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded to Dr. Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, New York, who has saved thousands of lives as the sole doctor permanently based in Sudan’s war-ravaged Nuba Mountains where humanitarian aid is restricted. The Aurora Prize, granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, was announced at a ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia. He was selected as the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate from more than 550 nominations submitted from 66 countries.
George Clooney, Academy Award-winning actor, Co-Founder of both The Sentry and Not On Our Watch, and Co-Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, commended Dr. Catena by stating, “As violence and war continue to threaten people’s spirits and perseverance, it is important to recognize, empower and celebrate people like Dr. Catena who are selflessly helping others to not only survive, but thrive. Dr. Catena is a role model to us all, and yet another example of people on the ground truly making a difference.”
Dr. Catena will receive a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations of his choice. Dr. Catena will donate the award to three organizations: African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), USA; Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), USA ; Aktion Canchanabury, Germany.
For the last nine years, Dr. Catena – known by locals as “Dr. Tom” – has been on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Mother of Mercy Catholic Hospital to care for the more than 750,000 citizens of Nuba amidst ongoing civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement. Patients have been known to walk for up to seven days to receive treatment for injuries from bombing attacks and ailments varying from bone fractures to malnourishment and malaria. It is estimated that Dr. Catena treats 500 patients per day and performs more than one thousand operations each year.
On being named the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate, Dr. Catena said, “We all have an obligation to look after our brothers and sisters. It is possible that every single person can make a contribution, and to recognize that shared humanity can lead to a brighter future. With my faith as my guide, I am honored to continue to serve the world and make it a better place. ”
Time Magazine Profile: HERE
Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times column: HERE