Mirza Dinnayi Receives Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

The 2019 Aurora Prize has been awarded to Yazidi activist Mirza Dinnayi, director and co-founder of Luftbrücke Irak (Air Bridge Iraq). The fourth annual accolade recognizes individuals who have shown outstanding dedication to humanitarian causes.

The prize came with a $1,000,000 grant, which Dinnayi has elected to donate. The funds will be distributed to three organizations that have inspired Dinnayi’s work: Air Bridge Iraq, the SEED Foundation, and the Shai Fund—all of which are dedicated to providing medical care and rehabilitation services to victims of ISIS.

“What makes Mirza Dinnayi an outstanding human being is the fact he couldn’t live in good conscience knowing that good people are left behind, that the innocent are suffering,” said 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate Tom Catena, who is also the chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “Trying to help others while facing an unspeakable evil can be challenging and frustrating, but he never wavered. I am delighted to congratulate Mirza Dinnayi with being awarded with the prize and welcome him to the Aurora family.”

Dinnayi is estimated to have saved hundreds of women and children during the Iraq war, an achievement that has not gone unnoticed by others in the humanitarian community.

“The very name of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity contains the most important message of this unique award,” said Nobel Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, who is also a member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. “Right now, the world feels the need for humanity to rise and for people to step up. Mirza Dinnayi, whose courage and selflessness are a credit to his people, is doing just that: taking care of women and children, who suffer the most in a conflict situation, and putting himself at risk to save others. What an outstanding humanitarian.”

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative also gave grants of $50,000 each to two other notable humanitarians: Yemeni activist and attorney Huda Al-Sarari and Zannah Bukar Mustapha, founder and director of Future Prowess Islamic Foundation (a school in Nigeria).

*Photo courtesy of Landesregierung Baden-Württemberg via Flickr CC.


Meet Brigitte Bardot: French Actress Turned Animal Rights Activist

Born in 1934, Brigitte Bardot is a famous singer, actress, dancer, and model who starred in French 50s and 60s films. Films she’s starred in include And God Created Woman and Contempt. She retired from acting in the 1970s and instead devoted her time to animal activism. Bardot is known for famously saying, “I gave my beauty and youth to men, I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.”

In 1987, Bardot auctioned off her own jewelry and personal belongings so she could start her own animal rights organization. Today, that organization is known as the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, France’s leading animal protection NGO. Fondation Brigitte Bardot has its own sanctuary in Normandy and continually lends support to other animal rights organizations.

In 2012, Brigitte Bardot sent a personal letter to France’s Philippines ambassador expressing her concerns for Mali, an ailing, solitary elephant confined to a small enclosure at a Philippine zoo. In her letter, Bardot requested that the sick elephant, Mali, be transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand where she can roam freely with other elephants. Her request was backed by Jane Goodall and famed veterinarian Dr. Mel Richardson. As a result, an online petition for Mali’s release went viral. The petition garnered more than 40,000 signatures. Unfortunately, Mali is yet to be freed from her tiny, concrete enclosure.

More recently, in 2013, the iconic star called for an end to grocery store Fortnum & Mason’s foie gras sales. Foie gras is a popular food dish consisting of the enlarged liver of a goose or duck. But in order to enlarge the liver, the ducks and geese must be force fed. A metal rod is jammed down their necks several times a day, and the over-stuffing of the liver results in increased pressure on the lungs. The practice is widely detested by veterinarians and animal activists alike and the sale of foie gras has already been banned in several countries. PETA renamed Fortnum & Mason’s, “Force-Fed and Murdered.” But thanks to the awareness that Bardot has brought to foie gras sales, thousands of people have elected to boycott Fortnum & Mason’s.

Organizations Profiles

John Prendergast Fights For Human Rights in Africa

John Prendergast
IMG: via Enough Project

John Prendergast is, in many ways, the model activist. He has dedicated the past thirty years to advocating for human rights abroad, and his efforts have allotted every organization he has worked with enormous amounts of support from passionate philanthropists. He is an author, human rights campaign leader, an advisor to prominent philanthropists, and a hands-on leader whose vast knowledge about violence in Africa has allotted him great success in his peace-oriented initiatives. In short, he has made an incredible difference.

One of the things that sets Prendergast apart from other activists on the front-lines of human injustice in Africa is the lasting relationships he forges with philanthropic people. The activist and author knows that change cannot be made through the efforts of one person, but that it takes a dedicated coalition of like-minded people to provide significant help to others in need. Throughout his career he has advised celebrities in their own humanitarian work, has sparked philanthropy aimed at worthy causes, and has even coauthored books with famous public figures in order to raise awareness about atrocities taking place abroad.

To learn more about John Prendergast, check out our profile.