There is something uniquely special about the bond between a father and a daughter. This Father's Day, we're celebrating every father who supports his daughter in pursuing her dreams and continuing her education. There are many to thank, but we've had the pleasure of speaking with one in particular, Evans Obuya Nyatichi, father of Akili Dada Scholar, Michelle. The following are some questions we had for Evans, and his powerful, inspiring answers.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
My name is Evans Obuya Nyatichi. I come from Nyamira County in Kenya and was the 8th born in a family of five girls and four boys. We grew up in what you would call abject poverty, though we always had access to plenty of wild and traditional foods and fruits. My father valued education as one of the most important things in life. He saw it as a means to end poverty in his family, and he stopped at nothing to make sure that his nine children all went to school.
Today, I am married with four children and have a master’s degree in criminology. My wife has a master’s degree in linguistics. Despite both of us being highly educated, life hasn’t turned out as we had planned. I have not been able to find steady employment since losing my job four years ago, shortly after my wife lost hers. She’s working now, but her salary is stretched thin to cover our basic necessities as well as the school fees of our four children. By the time our daughter Michelle (now an Akili Dada Scholar) reached Form 1 at Precious Blood, where she had earned her place by scoring well in her primary school exams the year before, we had accrued a lot of debt and did not know how we would be able to afford Michelle’s fees to keep her in the school. This is when we first learned of Akili Dada.
Will you share a little bit about Michelle? What was she like growing up? What makes you proud to
be her dad?
When Michelle was growing up, she was shy, but was always a happy child and very organized. She reminded me a lot of what I was like as a child. She has always performed well in school, emerging second in her 8th grade class! She takes good care of her younger siblings who look up to her as a role model.
I’m so proud to be Michelle’s father for many, many reasons. I admire her hard work and love for her siblings, but I am so grateful to have a daughter who has never resented the family’s difficult situation. She keeps a positive outlook, always reminding me that things will work out, one way or another.
How has being an Akili Dada scholar impacted Michelle and your family?
Since joining Akili Dada, Michelle has completely transformed. Though she is still the same hard-worker at school, she is much more opinionated and willing to put forward an argument in a debate. She challenges me all the time, whereas before she would never share her ideas and opinions at home or in school. I am happy to see this change in her. She is becoming a true leader.
Since she became part of Akili Dada, it has lifted a huge burden from our shoulders. At that time, the school had been threatening to send her home because of her fees arrears. I kept praying, and one day as I was taking some books to Michelle at school, she told me she’d been called for an interview and had been selected to receive a scholarship. Today, we are better able to provide for the family and the other childrens’ education. Akili Dada stepped in at just the right moment, since high school is an important turning point in life. If you can make it through secondary, you are more likely to make it in life. It was so important to us that Michelle stay in Precious Blood where she had rightfully earned a place and where she belonged, and Akili Dada made that happen.
What are your thoughts on education for girls?
That is a very good question. When I was growing up, taking girls to school was not a priority in the community, because most of them married young. But my father always said that marrying early was not smart. He believed that both the husband and wife should get an education and work so they can pool resources and give their children the best they can. And when I look at my daughter, I think: “How would she manage the responsibilities of a wife? She’s still a child.”
You can’t say a girl’s position is in the kitchen (there are many times when I cook for my girls!), because I believe there should be a fair balance for both boys and girls. If a girl is educated, she knows how to take care of herself and can pass on her knowledge and wisdom to her children.
Do you think people should support Akili Dada? Why?
Yes. There are so many girls out there who are bright and who can’t carry on with their education simply because they lack the resources. It’s not because they are not capable. Akili Dada fills a gap by providing a means for people who care about supporting girls to do so. When I do get a job, I plan to make an investment to see another child through school, and I would be glad to give back to Akili Dada. It’s my appeal to anyone who is in a position to, please come forward and assist!
Support Akili Dada's work to make sure that bright, driven girls like Michelle are able to live up to their full potential by donating today.