OVIEDO, Spain – The 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord was given to the Roman Catholic religious order of the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, which is one of the largest international nonprofit aid organizations in the world.
The order was founded in the southern Spanish city of Granada in 1593, and currently operates 350 centers in 53 countries, with more than 55,000 professionals and 9,000 volunteers serving more than 27 million people each year in areas of medical and social services.
At least 300,000 benefactors and donors provide financial support to this organization through private, regular or occasional donations.
In recent years, the Brothers of St. John of God has helped earthquake victims in Peru in 2007, people affected by typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in 2013, as well as the most vulnerable amid the economic crisis in Spain.
The charitable organization played an important role during the Ebola epidemic last year by launching the “Stop Ebola in West Africa” campaign, in which the order asked for donations to support its hospitals in the city of Lunsar in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia, in order to be able to acquire the necessary medical equipment to treat the victims.
During the epidemic, both hospitals were closed for disinfection and quarantine, after several staff members contracted the virus, which eventually killed 18 of them.
However, the Princess of Asturias Foundation stressed that the order has kept working to reopen the two medical centers through training medical staff to curb the virus outbreak, coordination with local authorities and other international organizations.
This year marks the first time the prize, which bears the name of the heir to the throne, has been called the “Princess” of Asturias Award, as it was changed from “Prince” when Princess Leonor’s father, King Felipe VI, ascended the throne last year.
The Princess of Asturias Awards are a series of annual prizes awarded in Spain by the Princess of Asturias Foundation in eight categories: arts, communication and humanities, international cooperation, literature, social sciences, sports, technical and scientific research, and concord.
Each winner receives a prize of 50,000 euros (roughly $56,000) and a replica statuette designed by the late Spanish sculptor Joan Miro.