DR. REBECCA DALI
THE FOUNDER & LEADER OF CCEPI
In 2017, Dr. Rebecca Dali was honored as Global Humanitarian of the Year by the United Nation’s prestigious Sergio Vieira Foundation in Geneva.The award recognized the dangerous and vital assistance she offered to the parents and communities of the “Chibok girls” whose mass kidnapping by the terrorist group Boko Horam received global attention in 2014. Yet this effort represents a fraction of the hundreds of thousands victims of violence cared for, to this day, by “Dr. Rebecca” and her thirty-year-old organization: The Center for Caring and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI).
Every year kidnapped children and adults escape, one or a few at a time, emerging from the wilderness--often pregnant or carrying infants. Feared by their communities and forgotten by the world, they’ve had nowhere to turn. Until Rebecca Dali got involved. She and CCEPI staff welcome each person, champions their cause, often convincing families and communities to take them back into the fold. When that doesn’t work, she and the staff of CCEPI find or create homes for them, enabling them to restart their lives.
With support from global partners and donors, Dr. Rebecca and her team work in places others consider too dangerous to enter. They rescue survivors from the aftermaths of mass violence. Then, Dr. Rebecca and CCEPI offer healing mental and physical care, food and shelter, community rebuilding and reintegration, livelihood training, farming support, orphan care, and much more. Whatever is needed, for however long it is needed.
Dr. Rebecca and CCEPI plant seeds for a positive future through violence prevention initiatives that offer young people educational and training opportunities, along with counseling and love. Dr. Rebecca was awarded the 2021 Founders Award by the Global Tassels Foundation, has been featured in several books and publications, and received many other honors.
LOVE OF EDUCATION
As a girl, Rebecca’s schooling was erratic, as she was sometimes called to the family farm and to care for a sick brother. School fees were hard to come by. During those times she walked to and from school, getting other students to tell her what they learned. When she was able to attend, she didn’t always have a piece of paper or a pencil. But she powered on, determined, passing exams, relocating to be near a high school, eventually earning a teaching certificate, a Masters degree, and...fast forward to 2012: Rebecca earned a PhD!
While conducting her doctoral research on a violent religious conflict, she helped broker peace by bringing together women from both sides, and coaching them into successful action as they convinced their husbands to stop the war.
WORKING FROM LIVED EXPERIENCE
Dr. Rebecca offers unique care and understanding that can only come from personal experience. She has personally been kidnapped by Boko Haram, who unexpectedly released her, only to bombard her with death threats when she won the UN award. She and her husband Samuel lost their eighteen-year old son Timothy who disappeared one evening, never to return home. Through all this Dr. Rebecca never wavers, never stops providing services, raising funds and awareness, and advocating globally for the seemingly often forgotten people of eastern Nigeria.
NEVER CEASING IN HER CARE FOR NIGERIANS
AND OPTIMISM FOR A POSITIVE FUTURE
In 2019, Dr. Rebecca’s compassionate reach expanded when she convened a group of 30 Nigerian civil society organizations to form a national network called Strategic Action for Community Development, Nigeria, as a highly respected chapter of the global Movement for Community-led Development. This powerful alliance represents a prosperous future for Nigeria, as served by a diverse civil society. The 30 member organizations democratically self-govern and self-direct, as they take coordinated action to serve the most marginalized communities across Nigeria, often living and working in difficult settings.
Today, Dr. Rebecca and her husband Samuel Dali live in the United States, having been displaced by Boko Horam’s threats. They serve Nigeria from afar, and enjoy opportunities as visiting scholars to universities and colleges in the US. At great risk to themselves, they visit Nigeria to work with CCEPI, the SACDN members, and hug their children and grandchildren, who carry on the compassionate work of their parents. Northeast Nigeria is their homeland, and despite the current problems, they love it: the people, the culture, the lands, the proud history.