The United Nations has named a Franciscan brother and educator from Kenya as the U.N.’s “Person of the Year.” Franciscan Brother Mokaya Tabichi, who teaches mathematics and physics in an impoverished Kenyan secondary school, received this recognition of his good works during United Nations Day celebrations in Nairobi Oct. 24.
Catholic News Service reports that Tabichi, following in the tradition of Franciscan poverty, declined to take full credit for the award, citing his fellow educators, students and the local community for his success as a teacher. At the podium before U.N., Tabichi championed women’s education, discussing the scant opportunities for standardized learning which young women of Africa are afforded.
“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 giving them the ability and skills to be able to relate and connect with others in the society,” Brother Tabichi told the U.N.
Brother Mokaya was reportedly chosen from a list of 10,000 nominees from all over the world. He is the first African to earn the distinguished accolade, which brings with it a $1,000,000 cash award. The Franciscan noted that he will use the money to help advance his local teaching facilities. He told CNS:
“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.”
Tabichi left the U.N. with encouraging advice for enacting change within society, which he believes does not require a position of authority. He said:
“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.