In the latest episode of African Voices Changemakers, CNN’s Arit Okpo meets Anna Qabale Duba, a Kenyan nurse who is the first-ever recipient of the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award.
The award was given in recognition of Qabale’s efforts to promote education and her campaigns against outdated cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage in her community. She talks about winning the award, “I’ve never dreamed in my wildest dream, I never thought one day I will be the best nurse in the world. Nurses most of the time feel left out. We feel overwhelmed because of the kind of the work that we do, but at least finally our voices are heard, and someone is recognizing our work globally.”
Nurse Qabale tells CNN that while she loved her life growing up in Turbi, she faced many challenges in her village as a young girl, “I come from a pastoralist community, where girl-child education was not valued. The culture has made our people believe that you better invest in boys because these girls at some point will get married to other families. But finally, the narrative is changing now.”
One of nineteen children, Qabale says that she feels lucky to have been able to access education with the support of her parents. She shares her own personal experiences of FGM and narrowly escaping forced marriage and compares herself to other young girls in pastoralist communities, concluding, “The only thing that made me different from them is that I was lucky to be taken to school.”
Nurse Qabale launched The Qabale Duba Foundation in 2014 which advocates for female and youth empowerment by providing access to education, health and social services. She also initiated the Turbi Pioneer Academy which boasts a unique learning model for both young children, and also their parents, “It’s a very unique model of education because the kids come to school in the morning and their parents, especially the mothers, come to the same school for the adult learning in the evening”, she explains.
She tells Okpo that her passion for nursing was born out of tragedy, after experiencing a massacre in her village and the early death of her brother, “We had a massacre in my village where almost 90 people were killed. I was informed too, by then most of the guys who were injured died due to the lack of the medical attention that they needed. That is what inspired me to be a medic and to be specific, to be a nurse so that I can be close to my people to help them when they’re in need.”
Inspired to help people, she continues to be an advocate for education and girls’ rights, always using her platform, whether it be as Miss Peace Kenya, Miss Investment Kenya, or now, the first-ever recipient of the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award 2022, to make a difference. With the prize money earned from the award, she plans to keep building momentum. “I will expand my school that has already started. I will build more classes so that we can be able to accommodate more deserving kids into our school”, she says.
Upon reflection, Qabale looks back on all she has accomplished, running a non-profit organization, working as a nurse, and raising a young family, and states that she wants to tell her five-year-old self to believe that, “There is nothing impossible in this world”. Looking to the future, she encourages all young boys and girls to follow their dreams, “Nursing is one of the best careers. It’s a calling. It’s not easy, but let’s love our work. Let’s do it passionately to serve humanity”.