Nursing award winner and finalist to preach peace in volatile Marsabit

The Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award overall prize winner Ann Qaballe Duba (right) and finalist Dida Jirma during a homecoming ceremony at Marsabit Referral Hospital on May 19, 2022. They plan to leverage their victories to promote truce among their warring Borana and Gabbra communities.

Photo credit: Jacob Walter | Nation Media Group

On May 12, two Kenya nurses from the two fiercely antagonistic Gabbra and Borana communities came together to celebrate their victories in Dubai.

When Ann Qabale Duba, a Gabbra, emerged the winner of the prestigious Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award, it was only Dida Jirma, a Borana and a colleague at Marsabit Referral Hospital, who was there to give her all the needed support.

In an interview with the Nation on Thursday at the hospital, they recalled that when the master of the ceremony broke the news that Ms Qabale was the winner, she nearly collapsed in disbelief and it took the efforts of Mr Jirma to prop her up.

Ms Qabale then shared a link to the Aster Guardians Global Nursing Awards with her colleagues, including Mr Jirma and she was excited to learn that only the two of them had been shortlisted from Africa.

Their victories and the events in Dubai are now being treated by many elites in Marsabit as the beginning of a truce between the warring communities.

Ms Qabale and Mr Jirma have declared their commitment to becoming peace and socioeconomic ambassadors not only in their county but in Africa.

Common good

They held that their interactions demonstrated that the warring pastoralist communities can put down their weapons and associate for the common good of their children and future generations.

Anna Qabale Dubas.

Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award winner Anna Qabale Dubas.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“I believe this is the best opportunity for us to bury our differences and to build a longstanding truce, knowing well that we are one people and shouldn’t allow petty differences to continue drawing wedges between us,” Mr Jirma said.

Faced with the challenge of bridging divides on pressing issues such as administrative land boundaries, politics and natural resources, residents of Marsabit are encouraged to seek consensus.

The two medics turned peace ambassadors plan to carry out peace campaigns across Marsabit using diverse platforms such as workshops, peace rallies, social media forums, and door-to-door campaigns.

“Our peace campaigns will first target the elites from the Gabbra and Borana communities, since they hold massive sway on the masses, before we reach out to the rural folks,” Ms Qabale said.

Mr Jirma said their victory had afforded the best platform to reach out to all elites and students from the feuding communities and appeal to them to be peace ambassadors too.

Even though the initiative would face some challenges due to the deep-seated animosity, Mr Jirma believes door-to-door peace campaigns would only work when the warring parties agree to reach a truce.

Ms Qabale took home a whopping $250,000 (Sh25 million) after beating nine other finalists in Dubai.

She was selected by a jury from among the initial 24,000 nominated nurses worldwide before being shortlisted as one of the 10 finalists.

She was cited for selflessly dedicating her life to serving needy girls in Marsabit County.

Mr Jirma was among finalists who received Sh500,000 each.

He was nominated for his service during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2015.

He was among the few Kenyans who threw their lives on the line to serve in the capital Freetown under the African Union (AU).

He has also spent more than 10 years striving to improve maternal and infant health services in Marsabit as the county’s Beyond Zero campaign manager.

Aster Guardians International Nursing Award was founded in 2021 to acknowledge and recognise the humanitarian work of nurses worldwide.