Inspirational Australian nurse Valerie Browning lives and works with the nomadic Afar people of Ethiopia.
The Afar region is one of the poorest places on earth where temperatures hit 60 degrees and one in three children die before the age of five.
Valerie has been described by Channel 9’s 60 Minutes as “one of our unsung national treasures”.
She has lived among the Afar nomads for more than 20 years and has worked tirelessly to improve their lives.
With her Afar husband Ismael Ali Gardo she set up the the Afar Pastoral Development Association (APDA).
APDA works hard to improve literacy for the Afar, promote maternal and child health and tackle the growing problem of HIV and AIDS with support from Anglican Overseas Aid and its Australian donors.
Valerie grew up in Armidale, NSW. At 17 she moved to Sydney and began her studies in nursing at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children.
In 1973 Valerie decided to go to help the people of Ethiopia who were in the grip of a devastating famine. With her friend and fellow nurse Rowena, Valerie started work with the Sudan Interior Mission.
Over the next years Valerie worked in Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia before deciding to marry Ismael, a respected Afar leader in Ethiopia in 1989.
Together they have formed APDA, a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO) which to date has trained over 700 local health and education workers.
Today Valerie, Ismael and their son Rammid, live in Logia – over 500 km north of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Their daughter Aisha is currently studying in NSW.
Valerie has been awarded an Order of Australia for service to International Humanitarian Aid and has written a book about her life called Maalika – My life among the Afar nomads of Africa.
Anglican Overseas Aid has partnered with Australian Volunteers International (AVI) to further engage the Australian community in our AACES program in Ethiopia.
You can read the 'Road Less Travelled' blog to find out more about how our partnership with AVI is helping the Afar and Massai communities.
In a broadcast on the popular Channel 9 current affairs show he said Valerie had "dedicated her life" to the Afar people who are "among the poorest people in the world".