Transforming tragedy into a force for good

Howdy Kabrin's and his daughter Gabriela. Contributed photo

Malibu restaurateur Howdy Kabrins launches Sonrisa 14, a nonprofit

By Barbara Burke 

Anguished, but determined to have inexplicably diabolical evil be transformed into doing good, Howdy Kabrins stood before a hushed audience in the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, as many attendees weeped. His clenched fist manifested a father’s helplessness as he and his family traverse the unenviable, lonely, lifelong journey of mourning a daughter — their only child — who was senselessly murdered and mutilated by her drugged-out fiance a world away in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2015.

“Linda and I are in a space where we want to begin the launch of Sonrisa 14, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to curbing toxic masculinity and femicide,” he said, with determination. They are, he explained, finding a way to transform tragedy into positivity by creating an organization that will raise awareness, educate communities, and promote discussions to challenge harmful stereotypes and behaviors.

“We firmly believe that by coming together, we can accomplish meaningful change.” He and Linda said in their Aug. 25 letter inviting attendees to learn

more, to care, to be involved in their initiative. Their salutation read, “with hope and determination.”

Many in Malibu have vicariously accompanied the Kabrins, who spent years in Cape Town, South Africa, where, after a harrowing months-long trial, billionaire playboy Diego Novella was convicted of strangling his fiance, Gabriela Kabrins Alban.

Howdy and Linda were in a Cape Town courtroom every day facing Gabriela’s assailant until Novella was sentenced to prison, and his living victims — those whom Gabriela left behind — were sentenced to coping with her loss and to finding a way — some way — to go forward and emerge from the devastating abyss of wondering why they were thrust into the senseless madness surrounding the loss of Gaby.

In response to the Kabrins’ letter inviting attendees to learn more about Sonrisa 14, there arrived a brilliantly written, heartfelt response from none other than The Hon. Mr. Justice VC Saldanha, the Cape Town judge who adjudicated the lengthy trial and who sentenced Novella. His letter, Howdy said, manifested intellect and goodness.

Gaby and Linda
Gabriela and stepmother Linda. Contributed photo.