Anna Qabale Duba, a Kenyan nurse who campaigns against Female genital mutilation ( FGM), has been crowned World Best Nurse.
Qabale is the first recipient of the inaugural Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award. She also won a prize of $250,000 (£205,000), which she says made her “speechless.”
Anna Qabale Duba’s colleagues describe her as someone who shows up and goes the extra mile for people in her small pastoralist community in the northern county of Marsabit, where she’s stationed. The new world’s best nurse runs a school, Torbi Pioneer Academy, one that caters to both the young and old.
“This award will help me to expand my school all over Kenya,” she told BBC Newsday.
The classrooms are filled with youngsters in the mornings for their classes. Later in the day, their parents come in for literacy class; sometimes, both age grades go home with the same assignments.
Ms. Qabale, 31, who holds a Masters in Epidemiology, says she was the only university-educated girl from Torbi village. She is also the only girl educated past primary school in her family of 19 children.
She also runs a foundation that empowers young women and mothers.
“I am so passionate about education. After tasting the fruits of education, I decided to go back home to empower the rest,” she said.
Escaping FGM and child marriage
Qabale underwent genitalia mutilation as a child and escaped being married off at age 14.
“I underwent female genital mutilation at the age of 12 and I narrowly escaped early forced marriage at the of 14,” she said.
Now married with a child, Qabale’s experiences shaped her convictions and propelled her into advocacy to end FGM in Kenya. She also runs Qabale Duba Foundation, a school she uses to educate parents on sexual health.
As a nurse in Marsabit County Referral Hospital, she advocates and protects young girls against FGM and other harmful sexual health practices.
“It’s not easy to talk about these things publicly. Being a woman – and we come from our patriarchal families – it’s not easy to talk about them, but I am really trying my level best,” Ms. Qabale said.
“I am using education as an excuse for my advocacy work to campaign against these devices.”
According to Dubai-based Aster DM Healthcare, she beat more than 24,000 nominees to clinch their Global Nursing Award.
According to the Kenyan Anti-FGM board, although FGM is illegal in Kenya, 91% of girls and young women are still subjected to it, especially in its northern regions.
Parents and guardians often take their children to the outskirts of the country and have them mutilated out of the roving eyes of the law.