Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity awarded to Dr Tom Catena

2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity awarded to Dr Tom Catena

The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity has announced its 2017 laureate as Dr Tom Catena.

Dr Catena, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, New York received the $1.1million prize for his work in saving thousands of lives as the sole doctor permanently based in Sudan’s war-ravaged Nuba Mountains. He was selected as the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate from more than 550 nominations submitted from 66 countries.

George Clooney, co-chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, said:

“As violence and war continue to threaten people’s spirits and perseverance, it is important to recognise, 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 receives a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to donate the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organisations of his choice. He has chosen: African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), USA, Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), USA, and Aktion Canchanabury, Germany.

For the last nine years, Dr Catena 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. It is estimated that he 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. I draw my inspiration from the Nuba people. And with my faith as my guide, I am honoured to continue to serve the world and make it a better place.”


The other four 2017 Aurora Prize finalists were: Ms Fartuun Adan and Ms Ilwad Elman, the founders of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Somalia; Ms Jamila Afghani, the Chairperson of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization in Afghanistan; Mr Muhammad Darwish, a medical doctor at the Madaya Field Hospital in Syria; and Dr Denis Mukwege, a gynecological surgeon and Founder of the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last year’s Aurora Prize Laureate was Marguerite Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom and the REMA Hospital in Burundi.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

Get free email updates

Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]

* We do not share your email or personal details.
" />