Peter Tabichi the compassionate teacher from Kenya

PETERTABICHI

Peter Tabichi is an incredible man. This compassionate teacher hails from Kenya. Peter teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. He teaches the poorest of the poor where they have only one computer in the school. As an ex-teacher I couldn’t believe the ratio of teacher to students in his classroom it was 58:1 and back in the days when I was teaching in Great Britain my ration was 30:1. Peter is a Christian and belongs to the Franciscan religious order.  He has no option but to teach in an overcrowded classroom within an overcrowded school. His secondary school students cannot even afford to have breakfast before they come to school. Many have to walk miles to get there.

According to the London Guardian newspaper: ‘More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Students have to walk 7km along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school and the area can be affected by drought and famine. Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions.

His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity. Tabichi and four colleagues also give struggling pupils one-to-one tuition in math and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify the challenges they face. Enrolment at the school has doubled to 400 over three years and girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted. ‘

This man has such a heart of compassion. I see him as the embodiment of a compassionate leader. He reaches out in love and care ‘to the least of these,’ in His name. I am reminded of Mathew Chapter 25 verse 35: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.’ Peter Tabichi cares for his students. He is bringing out the best in them. He is an inspirational teacher. Peter makes his students believe in themselves. With just one computer he uses it for 80% of his lessons and visits internet cafes and catches content he can use in his classroom. These students who come from very poor families are going on to amazing heights. To think his students have won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry in London, in the United Kingdom. The President of Kenya said in a video message: “Peter, your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent.”

God always honors and blesses those who reach out in love and compassion to the poor. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ” God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Peter was giving 80% of his monthly income to help the poor. Well he has been rewarded for his selfless generosity. Peter Tabichi was crowned the world’s best teacher and awarded a $1m prize, beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. He won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 and was awarded his prize at a ceremony in Dubai hosted by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman. Peter said he wants to use the million dollars to make his school a model school that is an example to Africa.

What a shining example of Compassionate Leadership in Kenya. Let’s hope that by winning this prestigious prize that people around the world will donate funds to help and support these students who come from very poor families.

Ivan Corea

Films on Peter Tabichi courtesy of youtube.

Photograph of Peter Tabichi courtesy of the Varkey Foundation: https://www.globalteacherprize.org/winners/peter-tabichi/

Here is an article from the London Guardian on Peter Tabichi winning his $1 million global award: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/24/kenyan-science-teacher-peter-tabichi-wins-1m-global-award

 

My Brother’s Keeper, My Sister’s Keeper

 

In Genesis, in the first book of the Bible, Cain kills his brother Abel, God confronts him: Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis Chapter 4: verse 9) Cain was meant to be responsible for his brother, to look after him and make sure he was safe. Cain, however, chose not to be responsible for his brother and murdered him. Jesus in his teachings said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

009-good-samaritan

When an expert of the law asked Jesus: ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus goes on to share the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The central figure of the story was a Samaritan who would not associate himself or herself with Jewish people. They could not stand each other. Here was Jesus breaking through all boundaries of race, color, creed. It was the Samaritan who helped the Jewish person who had been mugged and robbed when he was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was left half dead on that road. The man who looked after him, took him to an inn, paid for his medical expenses and for his accommodation was a Samaritan. The priest and the Levite, walked by on the other side. When Jesus asked the expert of the law which of the three men was the ‘neighbor,’ the man answered: ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ (Luke Chapter 10: verses 36-37).

There have been times when I have seen homeless people in Redding, California and like the priest and the Levite, I was too busy and walked by on the other side. There also have been times in my life for instance,when an encounter with a homeless person on the streets of Tokyo in Japan, prompted me to bring back everything the hotel offered for the guests and bought supplies, (sadly someone had opened my bag on the way back to the United States and had taken some of the things!) and gave them away – together with my own possessions, to a person who was reaching out to the homeless in Redding, because God spoke to my heart and challenged me, asking me when I was walking on a street in Tokyo: ‘who is your neighbor?’ There was also a pastor in Redding, California who called for supplies – toothpaste, soap, facecloths, etc. She distributed these supplies to the homeless. This pastor led by example – rising up and helping others in the community, in His name.

My thoughts go back to my own brother, Vernon. We grew up in Colombo, Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka. When I think of my brother I remember the seven stitches I have – just above my eyebrow! As children we were chasing each other, I stumbled and fell and hit my forehead on a flower pot in the garden. I had to be rushed to hospital as I was bleeding profusely and the surgeon stitched me up! As children and indeed as adults, my brother and I have had our differences but there has always been a profound sense of brotherly love. Here is a picture of us as children on a beach in Colombo, my brother smiles to the camera and there am I looking out for the waves behind us, advancing to the sea shore! I keep telling my brother (to this day) that I always had to look out for him!

brothers

I can never forget his love for me, his older brother, when I was dying, as a result of typhoid fever of 105 F – rolling in bed, clutching my stomach, in excruciating pain. Every night my brother chose not to sleep in his bed, instead he picked up a mat, he came and slept by my bedside and held my hand which was dangling from the bed. A brother’s keeper. My brother didn’t say much but his actions spoke louder than words. Talk is cheap but when you love your neighbor as yourself, your actions go along way to raise people up, change lives. I so felt his compassionate heart. Once when my brother was doing some electrical work in our home in Colombo, most probably he was repairing something, suddenly he had a massive electric shock and was flung several feet high – I rushed to him because I didn’t want anything happening to him. Mercifully, by the grace of God, we were both saved – from the typhoid fever and the electric shock and we are both alive to tell the tale.

Matt Maher, wrote this beautiful song ‘Hold Us Together,’ from his CD ‘Alive Again.’ His lyrics speak to the heart:

‘And love will hold us together, make us a shelter to weather the storm. And I’ll be my brother’s keeper, so the whole world will know that we’re not alone…..’

The other song that really reminds me of my brother Vernon is: ‘He Ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.’ I have carried him when he was in his nappies. He certainly wasn’t heavy, or a burden, because he was my brother. Nor for that matter was my sister Ouida who joined us a few years later.

We are called to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper, not just to our siblings but to those who are in need, people who need to be helped and supported, raised up, to love our neighbor as ourselves – at home, in our community, in our places of work.

John Maxwell wrote: ‘When you stop loving your people, stop leading your people.’ In reply, itohankadiri observed: ‘You can only influence people who connect with you, you have to have love for the people within your influence to transform them and move them from where they are, to where they connect through a shared vision. Love is a shared value which makes this transition possible.’ Maxwell was right. Leaders need to love their people. It also means you need to be your brother’s keeper, your sister’s keeper, even in a business, corporate setting.

afternoon-beverage-break-1549706

Leaders who come alongside their co-workers and make sure they are alright, will raise up confidence, loyalty, trust. A happy workforce is a productive workforce. When I was an educator back in the United Kingdom, I was so grateful to a former Headteacher who responded to me as a human being, when I was going through a really tough time in life. My welfare was important to her. The Head invited me to her office for a cup of tea, (some years ago), she just sat down and listened to my heart.  She put me on a 4 day week on full pay, reduced my teaching workload and said: ‘Go home to your family.’ I wasn’t just a ‘number’ to her. She didn’t display any ruthlessness, on the contrary, my boss had compassion for me. As an employee my well being mattered to her. When I returned back to work to a 5 day week, I felt so invigorated and gave not only of my time to the school but also threw myself into the local community, involving my workplace in projects that were of worth and value to both school and community.

Years later, the leader of the local council and the Mayor held these projects up as exemplars as to what a successful partnership should be like – between an educational institution and the local community. The Mayor celebrated the success of these projects in the Town Hall and gave out Council Awards. The school was mentioned in the British parliament. A leadership shift happened. That all came from a single act of compassion and kindness, extended by a caring leader who had empathy for her workforce and led ‘from within,’ with her head and her heart. When you raise people up, you also raise up your entire workforce, you lift up morale and even the happiness index of your company or organization. That is the hallmark of a compassionate leader.

Jesus asked ‘which one was the neighbor?’ The reply was ‘the one who had mercy on him.’

Ivan Corea

 

Film clips of Matt Maher’s ‘ Hold Us Together,’ song and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my brother,’ song by the Hollies – courtesy of YouTube.

Picture of the Good Samaritan courtesy of free Bible images.

Photographs courtesy of Pexel and Pixaby

 

 

When I run I feel His pleasure!

eric liddell

charleson_on_beach

Eric Liddell was one of the fastest men on earth in 1924. He was portrayed by the actor Ian Charleson in the award winning film ‘Chariots of Fire,’ released in 1981 and directed by David Puttnam. Liddell was a devout Scottish Christian. He was actually born in China in Tientsin on 16th January 1902. His parents  Reverend and Mrs James Dunlop Liddell were Christian Missionaries serving with the London Mission Society, now known as the Council for World Mission.

On his return from China, Eric Liddell attended boarding school at Eltham College in South East London and then went on to follow a degree course at the University of Edinburgh where he took up athletics. Eric Liddell was known as the fastest runner in Scotland when he was at the university. He was also an accomplished rugby player, gaining a place in the Scottish national rugby team, scoring four tries for Scotland.

Eric Liddell was chosen to run for the Great Britain team in the 1924 Olympics held in Paris, France. The 100 metres was his best event – he had won the 100 with a British record of 9.7 seconds in the AAA Championships in Athletics in Great Britain. The scheduling of the 100 metres at the 1924 Olympics caused a problem for Liddell. He was a devout Christian and he did not want to run on the Sunday – the ‘Lord’s Day, ‘ the Christian Sabbath. Liddell pulled out of the 100 metres race – his arch rival, Harold Abrahams won the gold medal in 1924. Years later, the Scottish Athlete, Alan Well won the 100 metres race in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Alan Wells dedicated his victory to Eric Liddell who did not run in his race in 1924.

Liddell won a Bronze Medal in the 200 metres in the 1924 Olympics and had a stunning victory in the 400 metres race, clinching a Gold Medal with a new Olympic Record of 47.6 seconds. He famously said: When I run, I feel His pleasure.’

Eric Liddell gave it all up, became a Christian Missionary in China and served there from 1925 – 1943. He taught at an Anglo-Chinese College and he tried to promote Christian values. He was a deeply compassionate man – a compassionate leader in China. The Japanese forces invaded China in 1941 and took over the mission station and interred him in 1943 in the Weihsien Internment Camp. He urged everyone in the camp to love their enemies and showed tremendous compassion on others and taught children in the Sunday School, they called him ‘Uncle Eric.’

The Protestant ecumenical theologian, Langdon Gilkey, who hailed from the United States, was also interred in the same camp with Eric Liddell. He wrote:  “Often in an evening I would see him bent over a chessboard or a model boat, or directing some sort of square dance – absorbed, weary and interested, pouring all of himself into this effort to capture the imagination of these penned-up youths. He was overflowing with good humour and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.” Liddell died on the 21st of February 1945, he had suffered a brain tumour. He died just 5 months before the liberation of the camp. They say Eric Liddell’s  last words were:’It’s complete surrender,’ he had given his whole life to God.

Ivan Corea

The Story of Eric Liddell:

 

If you ever you are in Edinburgh, in Scotland, you could visit the Eric Liddell Centre 15 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4DP, United Kingdom. Tel: 0131 447 4520. Fax: 0131 446 3348. Email: frontdesk@ericliddell.org

 

Films on Eric Liddell courtesy of You Tube.

Photographs of Eric Liddell courtesy of Wikipdeia ,the Chariots of Fire Film and the Eric Liddell Centre.