- While many people are shocked that Mr Tabichi has been giving up 80 per cent of his salary, and that he plans to do the same with the Sh100 million prize money, he sees nothing unusual about it.
Winner of global prize was taught to help those in need from a young age.
Tabichi says community’s interests take precedence over his.
It was Mr Peter Tabichi's first time to board an aeroplane, and as he looked around and debunked the myths he had heard about flying, he thought of what awaited him in Dubai.
He was in the company of one of the 10 teachers shortlisted for the prestigious Global Teachers Award by the Varkey Foundation. Also on board were some of his family members and congregants who had accompanied him to the Global Education and Skills Forum 2019.
“From time to time I would steal a glance at the people accompanying me and it felt like a pleasant dream, as if I was in another world. I could not believe that I had been shortlisted for a global award. It was a miracle,” says the introverted 36-year-old teacher.
Mr Tabichi, the fourth-born in a family of five, was brought up in Mukongorosi village in Nyamira County. As a young boy, besides playing with his mates, he liked calligraphy, fixing items and carving. In fact, if he were not a teacher, he would probably have been a scientist, web designer or counsellor.
But, as a man who grew up looking up to his father (a retired teacher) as a role model, teaching became his calling.
“My father is a staunch Catholic and a very prayerful man. It was this trait that motivated me to become a Franciscan brother, a member of the Catholic religious order founded by St Francis of Assisi,” he says.
While many people are shocked that Mr Tabichi has been giving up 80 per cent of his salary, and that he plans to do the same with the Sh100 million prize money, which he will receive in instalments of Sh10 million every year, he sees nothing unusual about it.
“My mother died when I was 11 years old and our last-born was just nine months old. It wasn’t easy because my father had to play the role of both parents, while also ensuring that our school needs were met. It was a difficult childhood, but one that was sprinkled with great faith and hope. Over time, we had well-wishers, especially from the local church, helping us. The heart to give to society stems from a point of gratitude. We were raised by the community,” he says.
And as he spread his wings from Nyasabakwa Secondary School to Egerton University, and later to teach maths and physics at Keriko Secondary School, Pwani village in Nakuru County, the his father's words and advice, told to him as a young boy, kept ringing in his mind and became his guiding light.
“My father used to encourage us to go out there, work hard, be honest and help those in need, whether we knew them or not,” he says.
His youngest sister, Ms Josepha Nyamboka, also a teacher and a volunteer with various organisations, describes her elder brother as smart, prayerful and a go-getter.
“If you want to give up and meet Peter, he will make you change your mind. Although I was young when we lost our mother, I am aware of many challenges that he went through, yet he listened to our father's counsel, remained disciplined and see, he has made him proud,” she says.
As the Australian actor Hugh Jackman, host of the ceremony, prepared to announce the winner, those accompanying him from Kenya held hands and said a short prayer.
“In my heart, I told God that this man, Tabichi, needed to win because we were sure that he would make a positive impact on the society, just like he had been doing with his salary for the past 12 years since he started teaching,” says Ms Nyamboka.
As a Franciscan friar, he believes that sharing and being generous fosters freedom from attachment and proprietary instincts. “When you give generously, you also receive abundantly,” he says.
What does he intend to do with the Sh100 million prize money?
“Maybe a few personal items but the priority is not my personal needs but the people because they deserve it and have supported me all through.
Besides, brothers live in orders, we live in groups of five. Most of my needs are met by the society in which I live and I am comfortable,” he says.
“The fact that I don’t have a family gives me the freedom and time to do all that I do, which would probably not have been the case if I had one. But this is a personal choice, nothing against the institution of marriage,” he says.
And to those wondering if the prize money will change him he says, “This is the beginning of good things. If I let the money change who I am, I will have betrayed myself, the people who have supported me, and those who are willing to support me. However, I won’t try to be a robot trying to do everything. I will be focused but still maintain my character,” he says..