On January 26, 2023, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, in conjunction with the American University of Armenia (AUA), hosted an event that brought together students and alumni who are current and past recipients of the Aurora Scholarship, as well as representatives of various humanitarian organizations. The keynote speaker was 2022 Aurora Prize Laureate Jamila Afghani, an activist for women’s rights and education in Afghanistan and founder of the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization (NECDO).
Jamila has dedicated over 25 years of her life to giving the women of Afghanistan access to education. Before August 2021, NECDO had more than 100,000 women enrolled in literacy programs, thanks to the establishment of small centers in many communities led by local women. The organization also provides legal aid and psychosocial support to more than 10,000 women victims of abuse from a family member or a partner. Forced to flee Afghanistan, Jamila is continuing to help others at distance.
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has sponsored the Aurora Gratitude Scholarship, which enables students holding citizenship in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Russian Federation, Georgia, and Iran to study at AUA by either partially or fully covering tuition fees. The Scholarship was established in order to promote humanitarian values, which play a paramount role in our increasingly globalized world and are critical for University students who will occupy leading positions in society in Armenia and neighboring countries. Since the inception of the scholarship, the Initiative has provided financial support to 69 students pursuing both bachelor's as well as master’s degrees at AUA, 20 of whom are currently studying at the University.
The attendees watched a video about Jamila Afghani’s work and joined a discussion with her via Zoom, during which she also fielded questions from the audience. “I continue my work in a much stronger way with the recognition I got from Aurora. Now, I’m on the stage of the international community to represent, to raise my voice for those who can’t do it. I’m here to amplify the voices of the people who don’t have a link, a way to [reach out to] the international community,” said Jamila in her opening remarks.
When asked how she keeps her motivation in the face of difficulty, the activist replied, “Even if we are from a country with lots of difficulties, it does not have to stop us from being a good human being.” She also emphasized her commitment to the next generation and the desire to avoid placing the burden of solving today’s problems on her children tomorrow.
Following the conversation with Jamila Afghani, representatives from the organizations in attendance presented their work to the current Aurora Scholarship recipients who would later join these organizations for an internship.
Cover photo: Jamila Afghani, 2022 Aurora Prize Laureate, joined the meeting via Zoom