July 14, 2011
It is with profound sorrow that we share the news of the death of a beloved friend and colleague, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, internationally known and honored peace-builder and activist. Dekha died July 14, 2011 from injuries incurred in a vehicle accident that killed her husband at the site last week. They leave behind four children.
We join in prayer and mourning with many people and communities around the world who have been touched and inspired by Dekha’s presence and work.
“We lost a great hero for peace and justice. She was a woman of amazing integrity, commitment, skills and spirituality,” says Dereje Wordofa, Africa regional director for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
Dekha worked with passion and commitment for over 15 years in peace, conflict transformation, and development work with pastoralists, advising and partnering with countless organizations and communities. She was honored with the 2009 Hessian Peace Prize in Germany, the 2007 Right Livelihood Award from the Swedish parliament, and the 2005 Kenya Peace Builder of the Year. In 2005, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as a part of a group of 1,000 women for peace across the globe.
To transform one’s own woundedness is one thing, to transform that of others and of the society requires collective wisdom. I have learnt two key ingredients: those are the ability to take risks and the ability to have hope and faith in the face of difficulty.
Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, in her October 2010 address to the ACTION Asia Forum
She was also celebrated with the “Amazing Kenyans Peace Award” by the Rotary Club of Nairobi for her contribution to promoting non-violence in Kenya in her role as convener of Concerned Citizens for Peace, a group formed in response to the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya and supported by AFSC.
Dekha served as the senior advisor for the American Friends Service Committee’s Somalia Peace Program since 2008. In addition to her work with us in the Horn of Africa, she shared her experience as a trainer, facilitator, and speaker with the AFSC in the Middle East, Asia, and at the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City. She visited and touched many in several other AFSC offices in the United States and with resettled Somali refugees around the country.
Dekha Ibrahim Abdi began her life’s vocation as a peacemaker in Wajir, Kenya and brought inspiration, skills and experience to people around the world.
Dekha had been a peace activist in all areas of her life. Dekha served as a Trustee of Coalition for Peace in Africa (COPA), the proposed Wajir Peace University Trust, and ACTION for Conflict Transformation in Asia. She was also active with Responding to Conflict. Dekha shared her knowledge as an instructor at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute of Eastern Mennonite University and at the Rift Valley Institute’s Horn of Africa course.
Dekha was working with Pact’s Peace in East and Central Africa (PEACE II) program. She held jobs with many organizations throughout her career, including at Kenya Development Alternatives, Inc., a USAID implementing partner for the regional conflict management; and CamelBell and Intermedia NCG Ltd on a project for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s Gender Unit. She traveled around the world to design and deliver trainings on peace-building and mediation.
Dekha’s keynote address on healing and peace-building titled “Transforming our Woundedness for Peace” serves as the introduction to the ACTION Asia book, “Voices From the Frontline.” She has written articles and reports including Wajir Community Based Conflict Management; Women’s Role in Peace Making in Somali Society and Transforming Conflict: reflections of practitioners worldwide. She contributed to Confronting War: A Critical Guide for Peace Practitioners (Mary B Anderson & Lara Olson, Editors.)