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Preventing civil war at home, transforming conflict worldwide

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, 1964-2011

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi died from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Dekha during a meeting with AFSC staff in Philadelphia. See more photos of Dekha. Photo: Terry Foss / AFSC

Dekha Ibrahim Abdi was born in 1964, in Wajir, Kenya, near the Somalia border. As a schoolgirl she brought classmates together across religious and ethnic lines, beginning a lifelong commitment to supporting inter-religious cooperation as the foundation of lasting peace.

In the early 1990s, conflict between clans led to the deaths of over 1,500 people in Wajir, where Dekha was head teacher of a school at the time. She worked with women from other clans to start a grassroots peace initiative, which brought together members of the conflicting clans. Even after achieving a peace agreement, the women kept pushed for more; they convened stakeholders from clans, government bodies, and religious groups to ensure that the peace agreement was implemented and sustained.

Dekha brought lessons on peace and conflict transformation to people around the world over the next 15 years, advising and partnering with countless organizations and communities. 

She served as senior advisor for AFSC’s Somalia Peace Program from 2008 until her death in 2011. She shared her experience as a trainer, facilitator, and speaker with AFSC in the Middle East, Asia, and at the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City, and visited and touched many in several other AFSC offices in the United States and with resettled Somali refugees around the country.  During her keynote address at an forum in Cambodia titled "Transforming our Woundedness for Peace," Dekha shared the lessons she learned from confronting her own woundedness:  "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 was 47 when she and her husband, Abdi Nuur, died from injuries sustained in a car crash in July 2011.

Read about more women change-makers from AFSC's history.

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