A math and physics teacher currently educating students in rural Kenya is dedicating his life to improving the lives of others.
Peter Tabichi gives away 80 percent of his monthly income to helping boost his community, and his efforts were recently recognized by the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, which named him this year’s winner in March.
The title came with a $1 million prize that Tabichi told CNN he will use to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as to continue building the Science Club he launched at Keriko Mixed Day School in the rural Pwani region.
“I want to use this award to empower and inspire the society … I want to use it to address challenges that society is facing, and I have been promoting STEM learning,” he told the outlet.
Tabichi, 37, said he also plans on using the cash to fix outdated classrooms at his school, and to get water to those in the community.
According to his Global Teacher Prize profile, 95 percent of Tabichi’s students at Keriko come from poor families, and nearly a third are orphans or have a single parent.
Many of the students have to walk more than four miles to get there, and issues such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, dropping out and suicide are common.
Tabichi, who is also a Franciscan brother, has made it his mission to transform the culture at the school by taking the students under his wing as a mentor, often visiting their families at home to discuss any problems, and teaching them how to grow drought-resistant crops so they always have something to eat.
“I’m immensely proud of my students. We lack facilities that many schools take for granted,” he said in a video shared by Global Teacher Prize. “As a teacher I just want to have a positive impact not only [in] my country but in the whole of Africa.”
He previously worked in a well-equipped private school, but decided the surrounding communities needed his help, too, and began working at Keriko.
Tabichi’s rolling donations to the school and community have allowed for the building of new classrooms, and he also hopes to soon bring water, high speed Wi-Fi and a modern computer lab to the school, too, CNN reported.
“When you give you are able to get the inner joy. You feel that good feeling and you feel that you are part of the larger society, the families beyond your blood and your brother,” he told the outlet. “Everyone you meet, everyone is your sister, everyone is your brother.”
Tabichi’s efforts to increase science education have also brought attention to the school, with several students having won multiple awards and traveled internationally to present their findings.
“When you see that a student is able to shine, is able to get the best grades, is able to beat other students or move to the regional level, even international level, it gives you joy,” he told CNN.