Kassie Braun Memorial Schools For Inauguration at Abakaliki on Friday

BY GODWIN OBI

 All roads leading to Abakaliki, the state capital of Ebonyi, will be wide open on Friday, 15th October 2021, as Kassie Braun Memorial Schools will be formally inaugurated.

The inauguration of the school, which is first of its kind in the country, will be chaired by the former minister of Health, Professor C.O Onyebuchi Chukwu.

 The auspicious event will also attract educationists and businessmen and women with inclination for high quality education across the states, east of the Niger.

The founder of the  multi-million dollar school, Rev. Father Dr. John-Bosco Obinna Ikemeh said the school is designed  and structured to provide exceptionally good studying environment with the state of the art facilities including three in-one room hostel, 24 hour supply of power, regular supply of water, recruitment of qualified teachers and recreational facilities for the students

Rev.Father Dr. Ikemeh said he decided to invest such mouth watering sums for the establishment of the school because the Almighty God has been enormously faithful to him.

The Principal said students of Braun Kassie Memorial Schools will be availed of the opportunity to have part of their studies done in America, while foreign students will also come to have part of their studies in the school at Abakaliki, Nigeria.

According to him, “We believe we have received graciously, and we must give graciously, “freely you received, freely you must give.” Graduates from our school will be distinguished not by the background they come from, but their zeal for academic excellence, character development, openness to new experiences, as well as by their aspiration to recognize and appreciate all of God’s gifts and their readiness for a life of service.

“ In that spirit of gratitude, it is our desire to reserve 10 to 20 percent slot of our student population for the “anawim,” “the poor of Yahweh,” those students whose families cannot afford to pay tuition to send their children to a good school as Kassie Braun memorial Schools. Kassie is about 20 miles from Ebonyi State University, and 45 miles from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Enugu”, Rev. Father John-Bosco stated.

Paying a glowing tribute to the founders of the school,  a commentator on social affairs, Mr. Bruno Ekeh extolled the wisdom, dexterity and large heartedness of Rev. Father Dr. John-Bosco Obinna Ikemeh for bringing such schools of international repute, and of high quality to Nigeria and in particular, the South east.

Mr. Eke said the Kassie Braun Memorial School is specifically designed to raise a crop of disciplined students and children with very high intellect and enthusiasm for academic excellence.

He also praised the founders of the school for extending scholarship to intelligent and indigent students, adding that structuring the school to be a boarding school will boost discipline and concentration of students on their studies.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF KASSIE BRAUN MEMORIAL SCHOOLS:

Our school project started in 2011 when Fr. Dr. Ikemeh was on a visit to Abakaliki. He had an encounter with school age children hawking on the street on a school day at Udensi Roundabout, and at the corner were women, mothers with their head pans and shovels waiting to be hired. It is a common sight in most of our cities and towns, you may say. The difference for him was that the experience took him back to his childhood days. It was after the Biafra-Nigeria war; when his parents could not afford to feed all their children much less send all of them to school. His passion for learning took him to selling random items, kerosene, matches, on the streets, and in Isinweke market, in Ihitte, Etiti, Imo State, a rather risky adventure for an eight-year-old. Then God sent a parish priest to help him achieve the goal of attending school. He was a young altar boy when the Rev. Msgr. Kevin Ikpah came to his church as their pastor. He asked Fr. Obinna to join other boys who lived at the rectory boys’ quarters at Madonna High School, Ihitte. It was an answer to Fr. Obinna’s prayers because, among other blessings, it provided him the opportunity to go to school. Two years later, Rev Ikpah left for another Church. Fr. Obinna had to work at construction sites on weekends and holidays to buy his books and school uniform and to help his parents pay tuition. In the town of Abakaliki and indeed all cities in Nigeria, many school age children, boys and girls, are still found “hawking” on the streets. The sight of those children doing what Fr. Obinna did several years ago moved him to want to give back, to help make their lives better. He became determined to build a school here in Abakaliki where he had that spiritual experience. He asked his contacts to start looking for land for him to build the school. It was not long when they told him they have found 10 plots of land. However, he was so disappointed when he came home to see the land they bought for him. He did not realize that 10 plots of land is not much. He sat down with an architect and quantity surveyor and told them the kind of school he had in mind; a school as good as and indeed better than the then Madonna High School, Ihitte. They told him that he needed not less than 60 plots of land. When they called him that they have found some land in Umuigwe, Fr. Obinna said he had exhausted his savings buying pockets of land here and there. He told his contact to go ahead and negotiate for the land. “The only option I had for money was my house,” Fr. Obinna said. So, he went to his bank and took an equity loan to pay for the land. Our work began on acres of land in the middle of a farming community in Abakaliki with no access road and no drinking water. We quickly realized that we could not build a school without giving the people access to the world outside their community.

In February 2016, we embarked on constructing an access road and built a bridge across the rice swamp, giving the community access to Abakaliki city that is only ten miles away. With the access road to our school land in place a bigger obstacle arose, the community has no water. Since water is a critical component of the build, our next step was to sink two boreholes to provide water for both the community and for our project. We did not waste time to start the construction of a privacy wall around the property for the security of our future students. “There were many days I thought that this project might end up as only a dream,” Fr. Obinna shared. But at every one of such moments, the good Lord confirmed that this project was so much more – It was and is His work. It took him a few years to realize that he could not do it alone, that the good Lord was calling him to walk with others in doing the work of God. This led to the founding of African Education Outreach (AEO), a non-profit organization (NGO) that could help to raise fund to build the school. “People have thought me to be crazy,” Fr Obinna shared. “You are not from Ebonyi State and here you are investing millions of dollars in infrastructure for school.” He said he could not argue about being crazy or not crazy. However, when you are doing the work of God, sometimes you look worse than a mad man does. “I personally believe that I have received tremendous gifts from the good Lord, gifts that I do not deserve,” Fr. Obinna shared. This sense of gratitude has helped to define the spirituality and motto of our school, “gratis accepistis, gratis date.” We believe we have received graciously, and we must give graciously, “freely you received, freely you must give.” Graduates from our school will be distinguished not by the background they come from, but their zeal for academic excellence, character development, openness to new experiences, as well as by their aspiration to recognize and appreciate all of God’s gifts and their readiness for a life of service. In that spirit of gratitude, it is our desire to reserve 10 to 20 percent slot of our student population for the “anawim,” “the poor of Yahweh,” those students whose families cannot afford to pay tuition to send their children to a good school as Kassie Braun memorial Schools. Kassie Braun Memorial Schools is situated 10 miles Northwest of Abakaliki city-center in a farm community of Nkaliki in Ebonyi State. Kassie is about 20 miles from Ebonyi State University, and 45 miles from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Enugu. Ebonyi state has a rich history of agriculture and mining. It has lately joined the list of states with large deposits of crude oil and natural gas. The advent of the oil boom in the country in the 1970s adversely affected the growth and development of almost every other sector in Nigeria, particularly the mining and agricultural sectors. Ebonyi State suffered a huge setback as the mining of Limestone and the cement industry closed. This was a huge setback to the economy of Ebonyi state and Abakaliki town. Kassie Braun Memorial Schools is a three-arm School comprising of the Nursery/primary School, the Secondary School and the Sixth Form/Advanced Level. Our initial plan to start with the secondary school and subsequently the Nursery/primary School succumbed to the need we encountered when we opened our doors in 2019. We could not close our eyes to the many school age children who were not going to school. It was the best we could do at the time, even as we acknowledge that it has added to our already financial burden. Kassie Braun Memorial Schools is named in memory of Kassandra Arielle Braun (December 19, 1996 – November 7, 2017), the “goddaughter” of Reverend JohnBosco Ikemeh. Kassie was an outstanding student and was a student leader at her high school, Cathedral High school in Indianapolis, Indiana (USA) a catholic high school run by the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers. She graduated High school and proceeded to St Edward University in Austin, Texas (USA), also owned by the Holy Cross Society. Kassie’s passion for the poor led her to leave the comfort of her home in the United States to travel to Ghana in West Africa and other parts of the world to teach in a rural school. She was determined to finish college and return to Ghana to live among the poor and help educate the children who were less privileged than she was. She did not live to accomplish that dream, but she woke us all up to think about people less privileged than ourselves and to help them to have a chance to compete. Today “Kassie” stands for social justice, leadership and service. Kassie’s spirit lives in this school to challenge everyone to give from the abundance or from the little of what they have received. The family of Kassie refused to let death have the last word. They refused to let Kassie’s death end her dream. They carried their grief into action, with tears and grief that pierce the heart, they founded an NGO, KassieKares Foundation to continue the dream and mission of Kassie. They have joined hands with us to build Kassie Braun Memorial schools. Our school is an Incorporated Trustee founded for the sole purpose of providing excellent education to any child who wants to learn irrespective of their religion or no religion, nationality or social cultural group. Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, USA (gocathedral.com), Kassie Braun’s Alma Mata is in collaboration with our School to deliver the best secondary school education in Nigeria. The collaboration will involve sharing of smart classroom and curricula. Our students will be able to access and participate in the wealth of over one hundred years of Cathedral High School’s education. It will also include the exchange program of students and teachers. Students from Cathedral High will spend time with our students in the classroom at our campus in Abakaliki, while our students and teachers will be able to travel to Indiana, USA to spend time in the classroom with the students of Cathedral High School. Our students and staff will have opportunity to write SAT exams and compete for entrance into the great universities of the Holy Cross Society. Such great Universities as the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; St Edward University, Texas; University of Portland and other Holy Cross tertiary institutions in the USA and Canada. This is the school you are being invited to be part of. We believe you have a lot to give for the wellbeing of our society. Will you be generous to share your gift for gratis? I am looking forward to hearing from you. God bless you abundantly as you respond. Respectfully, Rev. Fr. Dr. JohnBosco Ikemeh

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