By Fredrick Nzwili, Catholic News Service
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — At a school in the Turbi region of northern Kenya, children leave school at noon and parents arrive, learning to read.
Nearly 80% of the area’s population is illiterate, but the Turbi Pioneer School is making changes as children move from class to class. Parents work hard: they learn to write their name, to do simple calculations or even to record numbers on their mobile phones.
It was the work of Anna Qabale Duba, 31, a Catholic mother of two and professional nurse who won the first Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award on May 12.
Duba, who works at the government referral hospital in Marsabit town, northern Kenya, received the $250,000 award at an event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the occasion of the International Nurses Day.
“I dedicated this award to peace in my area,” Duba, a Catholic, told the Catholic News Service in a May 16 phone interview. “Catholics are for humanity and peace. It also influenced what I do.
Duba believes she has been rewarded for her work in education in the remote area. She went the extra mile to provide education in a predominantly nomadic pastoralist community where literacy levels are very low.
“My goal is education. I am who I am and where I am today because I received an education,” said Duba, who hopes to increase work against illiteracy through the prize money.
Turbi, a region near the Kenya-Ethiopia border, has been the scene of deadly battles involving ethnic communities fighting over resources in Marsabit County. One such incident occurred on July 12, 2005, when at least 60 people – including 12 children – were massacred in a morning ethnic raid known as the Turbi massacre. Several years later, ethnic tensions continue to threaten peace in the region.
Duba lost many family members, which prompted her to study nursing.
“Many lives would have been saved if there had been health facilities. I lost many members of my family. It made me want to help my people,” Duba said.
She has also campaigned against harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation or cutting and early marriage between girls and children in the community. Nearly all of Turbi’s girls had undergone female circumcision when they were 12, and Duba said she had it.
“As a nurse and having seen what these women go through during childbirth, I decided to fight against it,” said Duba, explaining that the foundation involves everyone, priests and sheikhs. speaking out against harmful practices.
“The early marriages are still there, but I tell them (the community) to take their daughters to school, because the school delays these marriages,” added Duba, the first woman from her village to graduate. university.
Her passion for working with communities began in 2013 when she was named Miss Tourism Marsabit County. The work was further accelerated in 2014 when she was crowned Miss Investment Kenya. After that, she decided to return to the village to empower her communities.
So that she could have something lasting, Duba opened a school and named it Turbi Pioneer, because it had been a first in so many things in her village.
Duba also runs the Qabale Duba Foundation, which advocates for the rights of Kenyan women and girls.
The foundation’s programs include the provision of sanitary supplies and underwear; providing mentorship programs, including visiting motivational speakers in schools; and safe motherhood programs, where the foundation trains traditional birth attendants on safe deliveries and urges them to advocate for hospital deliveries. She also fights against female genital mutilation and early marriage and carries out peace actions.
Father Christian Pista, a priest at the Turbi Mission in the Diocese of Marsabit, called the award a “moment of joy”.
“We want to see her continue her work, fight for human rights, fight for girls and for women,” said the priest. “The church has invested a lot in education, invested in health and so many human social aspects. Thus, the work of so many former missionaries is now visible.
Bishop Peter Kihara Kariuki of Marsabit said the church and partners working for peace called on Duba to become the voice that calls people to unity, peace and reconciliation in Marsabit County.
“It shows that whatever the situation in Marsabit, we always have winners,” Bishop Kariuki said. “God brings these blessings to Marsabit, while we are in this situation (drought and conflict). Then we have to look at that and say that God wants us to do something better.
He said the church wants to work with Duba for peace and reconciliation so that “we can all team up, not the religious ones, but those who have been touched by God’s love and grace to help those who are unable to do so. ”