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Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

A celebration of the strength of the human spirit, IDeA launched this initiative as part of a broader movement to bring awareness to the selfless acts of heroism that save lives.

Public Reports

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is committed to building a broad, global humanitarian movement. The initiative is rooted in inspiring stories of courage and survival that emerged during the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians perished. Those fortunate few who survived were saved by the courageous and heroic acts of institutions and individuals who intervened, at great risk. A century later, the Initiative seeks to express gratitude, share remarkable stories of survivors and their saviors, and celebrate the strength of the human spirit.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative creates and supports projects designed to raise public awareness and address some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian issues. These projects include the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the 100 LIVES Initiative and the Gratitude Projects.

The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is a $1 million global humanitarian award to honor those whose actions have made an exceptional impact to advance humanitarian causes. It is awarded annually in gratitude to those who saved Armenians during the Armenian Genocide.

The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former Foreign Minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

Marguerite Barankitse, a Burundian activist, was chosen as the first Aurora Prize Laureate for rescuing and educating over 30,000 children since the civil war broke out in Burundi. Marguerite now runs a hospital and an orphanage out of a refugee camp in Rwanda. As Laureate, Barankitse was awarded the $100,000 grant and got the unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving. The accompanying $1,000,000 award will be spent to advance aid and rehabilitation for child refugees and orphans, and fight against child poverty. Three organizations were recipients of the award: Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse; Fondation Jean-Francois Peterbroeck; and Fondation Bridderlech Deelen.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has broken ground by combining the awarding of a prize with a thought-provoking platform for discussion among leading experts from across the international humanitarian community. The Aurora Dialogues are a series of discussion panels held in conjunction with the prize event. Supporting this discussion are the results of the Aurora Humanitarian Index, a survey that examines public perceptions of major humanitarian issues. The findings from the survey are presented as part of the Dialogues.
The Roman Goddess of Dawn, Aurora, inspired the name of the Prize, reflecting its aim to awaken humanity to the heroic acts of those who stand up in the face of adversity.

The name Aurora was also chosen to honor the memory of Aurora Mardiganian, who bore witness to the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and told the world her story of survival to raise awareness for the 1915 atrocities. The Prize was inspired by Aurora and the thousands of untold stories of courage and survival during these events 100 years ago.

100 LIVES tells the stories of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and pays tribute to those who helped them. Their compassion, generosity and sacrifice show the best of humankind.

The descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide seek to express thanks to the memory of those who helped save the victims of genocide, by providing educational initiatives and scholarships, grants to humanitarian projects and promoting public awareness of humanitarian efforts through the Gratitude Projects. In cooperation with the Near East Foundation, 100 academic scholarships are given to at-risk youth from the Middle East who have been affected by conflict, displacement, and poverty. The scholarship program offers recipients an internationally recognized level of education within the United World College (UWC) network of schools, including in Armenia-based UWC Dilijan—a co-educational boarding school currently hosting students from over 72 countries.

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