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.


Giving, for Your Health

Giving for your Health
IMG: via Shutterstock

We already know that helping others feels good, but new research provides evidence that philanthropy also provides very real health benefits. In Leslie Goldman’s “4 Amazing Health Benefits of Helping Others,” she details the physical advantages associated with humanitarian work. Here are four more fantastic reasons to help others:

  1. You’ll Lengthen Your Lifespan. “A 2013 review of 40 international studies suggests that volunteering can add years to your life – with some evidence pointing to a 22 percent reduction in mortality,” explains Goldman. Happily, studies reveal that you can start adding years to your life at any time; the health benefits of philanthropy are applicable to people of all ages.
  2. You’ll Experience Greater Happiness. Goldman explains how doing things for others triggers the reward center in your brain to pump out dopamine, creating what researchers call a “helper’s high.” Basically, doing good deeds, donating money, and volunteering your time can give you a literal boost of happiness!
  3. You’ll Be Better Equipped to Manage Pain. Studies have shown that “on a scale of 0 to 10, people’s average pain ratings dropped from nearly a 6 to below 4 after volunteer training and six months of leading discussion groups for pain sufferers,” indicating a correlation between volunteerism and pain management. Offering emotional support, donating time, or funds, has been proven to benefit those already in physical pain.
  4. You’ll Have Lower Blood Pressure. “A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychology and Aging revealed that adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than non-volunteers to have developed hypertension four years later,” explains Goldman. Essentially, those who volunteered roughly four hours per week reported having lower blood pressure than those who hadn’t. Who knew volunteering could be so good for your health?

Make a New Year’s resolution to become a better humanitarian; it will benefit your community, as well as your health!



Angelina Jolie: American Actress, Director, and Humanitarian

Angelina Jolie: American Actress, Director, and Humanitarian
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Angelina Jolie is a name familiar to most people in the United States. An award-winning actress, director, screenwriter, and author, Jolie has been in the public limelight after her first Hollywood film, Hackers, was released in 1995. Her subsequent roles in George Wallace and Gia won her serious recognition in the acting world. Known for being just the opposite of a “Hollywood darling,” Jolie possesses a dark elegance reminiscent of her youth, when she struggled with depression and experimented with drugs.

While filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2001, Jolie for the first time encountered a war-torn country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. She stated that this experience opened her eyes to the world, and since then she has become known as one of the biggest philanthropists in Hollywood, visiting more than 30 countries on field missions.

To read more about Angelina Jolie’s philanthropic and humanitarian work, check out her profile here.

Organizations Profiles

Audrey Hepburn and UNICEF

Audrey Hepburn Wax Figure
Audrey Hepburn Wax Figure
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Audrey Hepburn is one of the most adored Hollywood icons of all time. While many know her for roles in dozens of beloved American films, Hepburn was as much of a passionate humanitarian as an actress throughout her adult life.

Hepburn has said, “I feel so strongly that’s where it all starts, with kindness. What a different world this could be if everyone lived by that.” This principle influenced how she lived her life, and is what led her to pursue remarkable humanitarian work. One of her most notable humanitarian roles was with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. This organization works in more than 190 countries to save and better children’s lives by providing basic necessities such as medicines and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition education, and emergency relief. The organization’s ultimate goal is to “achieve a day when zero children die from preventable causes,” and to provide safety for the world’s most vulnerable children.

Hepburn took direct part in these efforts while serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a position she was appointed to in 1988. According to UNICEF, the goal of the Goodwill Ambassador program is to allow celebrities who have shown a dedicated interest in the cause use their fame to draw attention to important issues. When Hepburn became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador she informed international media outlets, celebrities, governments and the general public of the atrocities she saw while visiting underdeveloped countries where children were in danger due to risk of starvation, violence, and unsanitary living conditions.

Through her passionate work with UNICEF she not only raised public awareness about issues targeting underdeveloped parts of the world, but also experienced delivering water, food, and medicine to children first hand. Her time spent in Africa, Turkey, South America, and elsewhere irrevocably changed Hepburn, and ignited a desire to devote the rest of her life to helping children. Hepburn is prime example of a person who has used their celebrity to promote important causes in hopes of creating change and bettering the lives of others.

Even years after her death, Hepburn has left a legacy that inspires others to do good in the world, and fight for others’ basic human rights. She was a role model, a kindhearted activist, and a true philanthropist.

To learn more about Audrey Hepburn’s relationship with UNICEF, and the organization’s continual work to better the lives of children around the world, visit UNICEF’s official website.