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Franciscan brother in Kenya named U.N. Person of the Year

A Franciscan brother who teaches mathematics and physics in Kenya has been named Person of the Year by the United Nations in Kenya.

Brother Peter Mokaya Tabichi, who teaches at Keriko Secondary School near Nakuru, was recognised for his work in promoting education for all young people.

He received the award during United Nations Day celebrations in Nairobi on 24 October.

Brother Tabichi was reluctant to take full credit for the award and said he preferred to share it with others.

“I feel shy to describe it as Brother Tabichi’s or that of the Catholic church where I belong to in matters of faith,” he said.

“It is for each one of us, as many have chipped in-teachers, students and the local community.”

During the U.N. gathering, Brother Tabichi, 37, said that about 6 million girls of school age around the world — the majority of them in Africa — do not have the opportunity to attend classes.

“At the same time, 72 million children are in danger of missing education in Africa due to war, floods and other challenges,” he said.

“Today people continue to struggle even more than what I went through. The role of education should be to unlock the best in people and give them the ability and skills to be able to relate and connect with others in the society,” he added.

The Franciscan encouraged the audience to take any steps possible, small or large, to impact the lives of people around them.

“Start by doing the ordinary things and have dedication, generosity and passion in what you are doing and if you believe it can happen, then it will,” he said.

The award was Brother Tabichi’s second honour this year. In March, he received the Global Teacher of the Year Award from the London-based Varkey Foundation. The award came with a $1 million prize.

Brother Tabichi is the first African to win the award. He was chosen from among 10,000 nominees from 17 countries, according to the foundation.

He told CNS he planned to use part of the cash prize to boost technology at the school, improve the school’s physical facilities and support the local community in Nakuru.

“Openly speaking, there are many challenges, but we shall confidently and hopefully overcome them, all in the name of making a difference in the education field around us,” he said.

“As a local school, my school as well as students is in dire need,” he added. “I plan to chip in some of the money to the needy areas.”

Brother Tabichi was also invited to the White House by President Donald Trump in March and addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York in October.

Picture: Franciscan Brother Mokaya Tabichi has been named Person of the Year by the United Nations in Kenya. He is pictured at U.N. headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, on 24 October 2019 after receiving the award. (CNS photo/courtesy United Nations in Kenya)

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