Dr. Tom Catena, an Amsterdam native who has dedicated the past eight years to running a hospital in war-torn Sudan, was a finalist for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
Catena, the sole doctor at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, was one of four finalists for the new award, which will be given annually for individuals who put themselves at risk to enable others to survive. This is the first year of the prize, which is dedicated to the Armenian Genocide survivors and those who worked to save them.
The prize was given Sunday in Yerevan, Armenia, to Marguerite Barankitse for her work saving thousands of orphans and refugees during the civil war in Burundi. The Aurora award gives $100,000 to the recipient and $1 million to a charitable organization chosen by the winner.
The finalists in addition to Barnakitse and Catena were 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.
Catena has worked at Mother of Mercy since 2008. The 435-bed hospital serves the nearly 500,000 people in the area. A graduate of Duke Medical School, Catena treats cancer, malnutrition, leprosy, war wounds and delivers babies, all in a hostile environment and without access to medical technology, electricity or running water and in hostile environment. The area has been ravaged by a civil war since 2011.
Catena was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2015.
The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Nobel Laureates Elie Wiesel, Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former Australian foreign minister 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, who presented the award.