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.