For many years Tom Catena was the only doctor in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan. This is an area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. In 2011 it was the site of intense fighting between government forces and local groups aligned with the South.
Throughout this fighting, which lasted for years, Tom Catena ran the Mother of Mercy Hospital. He saw thousands upon thousands of patients every year under the most difficult of circumstances. His hospital was bombed, his house was targeted, but Tom Catena never left. And he is still working there to this day.
I caught up with Tom in Yerevan, Armenia where he was on hand to participate in events around the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Last year, Tom won this prize, which is conferred by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. This is a group established by Armenian and Armenian-American philanthropists in honor of the survivors of the Armenian genocide. The idea behind the prize is to honor individuals who are standing up for human rights, often without much recognition and in extremely difficult circumstances. The winner this year was a Rohignya human rights lawyer named Kyaw Hla Aung.
This is a powerful conversation with a true humanitarian who has saved countless lives in extremely difficult circumstances.