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Kenya: ‘For now, the focus is on staying alive’

21 April 2023

Tom Price/Tearfund 2023

Dub Garbicha Duba, programmes co-ordinator for Tearfund’s partner the Anglican Development Services, Mount Kenya East

Dub Garbicha Duba, programmes co-ordinator for Tearfund’s partner the Anglican Development Services, Mount Kenya East

DUB GARBICHA DUBA, who is 35, is living in a time of change and choices in northern Kenya. His manner is gentle, and he speaks with a sincerity of heart which has been shaped by decades of perseverance, courage, and optimism in the face of adversity.

After losing their cattle herd in the 1992 drought, Mr Duba’s family weighed their options. He remembers his father explaining: “If we leave this place and join your grandfather, you will have the luxury of milk and meat, but you will not get an education. If we remain here, I have nothing to feed you with, no milk, no meat, no clothing, but there is school. You will get an education and live a better life in the future.”

“Throughout my childhood, I slept on food-aid sacks and used tarpaulins as bed sheets,” Mr Duba recalls. “I kept telling myself, if I work hard I will get through this challenge and help others. I am grateful to my teachers who gave me pencils, books, and paid exam fees so that I could graduate.”

Now, he works as a programmes co-ordinator for the Anglican Development Services in Marsabit, and acknowledges that his family were prescient in moving away from dependency on cattle. He is coaching his community through a painful process of accepting the need to adapt and diversify their livelihoods.

“The people I serve tell me: ‘We have lost our every hope, our herds, our assets, our pride, our dignity. We no longer see the meaning in life,’” he says. “Having seen neighbours and relatives die of hunger, they have every reason to fear for their lives.

“It used to be that my grandfather’s herd was our pride and security. Now, all that’s left of those cows is the songs that we sing to remember a way of life that we loved and cherished, but that has had to change.

“Freedom from poverty is waiting on the horizon for the communities I serve, if we can survive this crisis. For now, the focus is on staying alive. It’s hard to be entrepreneurial when you can’t feed your children. Support from our partners, such as cash assistance from Tearfund, has been a vital lifeline during the leanest months, especially for malnourished children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the elderly, and people living with disability and terminal illnesses. This support shows that there is hope.”


Esther Trewinnard is the senior media officer of Tearfund.

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