UAE: Kenyan nursing award winner opens school with prize money

Anna Qabale Duba who won $250,000 at the Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award also has ambitions to open a hospital in her hometown


Nasreen Abdulla

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Anna Qabale Duba with adult learners at school
Anna Qabale Duba with adult learners at school

Published: Sat 18 Feb 2023, 6:52 PM

Less than a year after winning one of the nursing industry’s top awards, Kenyan national Anna Qabale Duba has opened the doors to a new school building which will educate over 200 children and adults in her village.

Duba, who won the grand prize worth of $250,000 at the Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award in May 2022, hails from the remote village of Turbi which still remains disconnected from electricity. Due to this, the school building will be predominantly run on solar energy.

“I have installed solar panels in the classroom,” she said. “This means even students from the nearby areas can come there and use the classrooms as a study hall in the evening. The school will also have an administrative block which has a space where teachers can take a break or have lunch.”

Anna with students
Anna with students

With classes from pre-primary to Grade 4, Duba hopes to expand the school to educate children until Grade 6 over the next few years.

Passion for education

This school marks the fruition of dreams that Duba had for her village and her people. “Education gave me the wings to fly,” she said. “Coming from such a small village, from a humble family background, I had no one to help me. It is education that helped me script my story. The power of being able to write my own story is what helped me reach where I am. I want the children in my village to have this kind of power.”

Apart from educating children, the school will also give a space to their parents to learn. “90 per cent of the children who attend this school, their parents are illiterate,” she said. “So now in the afternoon, when the parents come to pick their children, I have arranged for classes for them so that they can learn the basics of reading and writing.”

Anna plays with students
Anna plays with students

However, her dreams don’t end here. “I dreamt about a school and now it is a reality,” she said. “My next ambition is to build a hospital in my hometown as there is no hospital for at least 200 kilometers. Right now, there is only one small clinic. If I build a hospital, that will ensure that everyone, especially pregnant women, can get the necessary medical care.”

She is also passionate about furthering her own education. Currently she is preparing to travel to Atlanta, Georgia in USA where she has won a fellowship called the Public Health Emergency Management awarded by the CDC. “It was tough competition and I think I am the only one from Kenya who has managed to get a spot,” she said. “It is a three-month fellowship and I am really looking forward to learning more.”


Youngest of a family of 9, Duba was the first graduate from her village and the only educated child in her family. Growing up, she went through many challenges and was almost married off at the age of 14. “However, my brothers and teachers came to my rescue,” she said. “That is how I managed to go to high school and then university.”

Despite being born in a nomadic community, Duba said she was lucky because by the time she was born, her parents had settled in one place where there was one school. It was the wish to help other people that pushed her into nursing. “I have always seen people around me struggle to get medical care especially during delivery,” she said. “So when after high school, it came to choosing a career, I picked nursing.”

Duba moved almost 500km to be able to go to nursing school. During her nursing studies, she won the Miss Tourism Kenya 2013 title. Since then, she has used her influence to advocate for gender equality and education in her community. Soon after her graduation, she launched the Qabale Duba Foundation where she worked to raise awareness about a variety of topics including safe period health. However, these are not the only causes she is passionate about.

“I underwent female genital mutilation at the age of 12 without my consent,” she said. “I want to put a stop to such harmful cultural practices, so I have been very vocal about it.”


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