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HRD of the Year 2016 Winner, Rahma Wako

A personal message to all HRDs.

This is my story since I received the award;

I have had a number of positive experiences. Some of the most memorable are: further recognition of my contribution to human rights by the Mathare Social Justice Centre which offered me an employment opportunity. I am now the Assistant Administrative Coordinator and earn a salary at the end of the month that sustains me and my family.

I have also received recognition from my Borana Community, which was initially against my human rights work as it went against culture. In fact, after I won the award, the community organised a party to celebrate my success both at Kiamaiko, in Nairobi and back home in Marsabit County where they appointed me as the coordinator of Borana Community women in Kenya. In addition, a number of media houses have interviewed me about my work since then and Peace Brigades International (PBI) have done a biography on me and broadcasted it worldwide.

Being recognized through the HRD of the year award has put me in the lime light and people are now more interested in associating with me and the human rights work that I am carrying out. Initially the Borana community, to which I belong was against the human rights work that I do but now welcome my efforts and support my work. UN women have also accorded me full membership status and they consult with me from time to time on issues affecting girls and women in the slums as well as opportunities for new partnerships. Though I am not well educated, the UN Women has given me opportunities to share my experiences which I do using a translator. The monetary reward enabled me to pay school fees for my son who is in high school. He had stayed home for some time due to lack of fees as I could not manage to raise the required funds.

The respect I commanded from the community after winning the award increased and the human rights work I do has received massive support form the community which acts as a deterrent security measure. The community members will call me to check on my safety and where I am and they also have volunteers who accompany me from time to time as I do my work. The Netherlands Embassy has been calling me to check on my status and give me security tips based on the current happenings.

The positive recognition also came with an element of increased risk after winning the award. The perception by the community about the award was that it had a huge monetary reward. So the young men in the area, being an informal settlement, could tease me and even tell me to move out as I was no longer in their class. To mitigate against further risk to me and my family I organised a community party for my immediate neighbours and the young men in the area where I described the award, the amount of money I received and how I intended to use the money.

To the HRDs in Kenya, always remember that being a HRD is a calling and not a profession. You perfect your calling first and think about professionalizing it later. A HRD should aspire to be honest, fair, patient, loving, uphold justice and maintain integrity at all times…a reward will come your way one day. Since human security is not 100% guaranteed, HRDs should trust in God to protect them always. With this in mind, they will go far.

Nominate Someone for HRD Award 2018!

Yours Truly,                 

 Mama Rahma Wako, Winner, Inaugural HRD of the Year Award

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