AEO Founder Testimony

T oday there is no free public education in Nigeria and in most African countries. From kindergarten to college, families must pay to educate their children. Although there are private schools, most are not affordable, and many are substandard.  The same was true when I was a child in Nigeria decades ago. My parents could not afford to pay tuition for all their ten children. They sent some of my older siblings to school, and encouraged me, a middle child, to learn a trade. I wanted an education, however, and started hawking on the streets and assisting at construction sites in order to earn money to pay tuition. Then God sent a parish priest to help me achieve the goal of attending school.

I was a young altar boy when Rev. Kevin Ikpah came to my church as our pastor.  He asked me to join other boys who lived in church quarters.  It was an answer to my prayers because, among other blessings, it provided the opportunity to go to school. Two years later, Rev Ikpah left for another Church. I had to work at construction sites on weekends and holidays to buy my books and school uniform and to help my parents pay tuition.  

 

Fr. JohnBosco (right), Mgsr Kevin Ikpah (left)

Today, by the grace of God, I did not only graduate from secondary school, I have been privileged to earn a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology and a doctorate degree in Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. I am a priest in the Catholic Church and a chaplain at the hospital. Countless children are still hawking on the streets or working on construction sites in Lagos, Lusaka, Kivu, Abidjan, Nairobi, and other African cities.  Many children are working in mines.  Few, if any, of those children can hope to attend school unless new opportunities are created for them.
Concern for these children led me to begin a conversation with Father Gabriel Smith of West Ashley who was very supportive and encouraged the launching of African Education Outreach (AEO), a 501(c) 3 organization whose first task is to build a school in Abakaliki, Nigeria. AEO is privileged to have the support of Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, South Carolina in whose diocese we are incorporated. Our collective efforts and prayers in this undertaking underscore our commitment to change lives in Africa, one child at a time and one community at a time. AEO is a member of South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organization (SCANPO); we have a gold star status on Guidestar.

We have a gift of ten acres of land which we have graded and constructed an access road to. We plan to build in phases. Our take off for the first phase is to sink a Bore Well on our property in Abakaliki along with water treatment system and a power generator as part of the first phase of the project. The generator and the water treatment system will be secured in a “power house” that will be constructed on the property. These are estimated to cost $107,500.00. The idea is to provide the much needed water to the local community that has zero drinking water during the dry season (October to March), and when we start construction, water will be handy. We hope to complete this project by June of 2017.

This past year saw Betty Niermann, a board member of AEO, and me traveling to Nigeria to sink the bore-well to provide water for the community and for construction work. Because of the difficulty in getting even underground water, we sank the first well and it was a very poor yield, we decided to sink a second one and the water came rushing!!  The joy on the faces of this community and the celebration that ensued is priceless.

We have accomplished a lot already thanks to some generous Charlestonians and local churches. The privacy fence estimated at $150,000 and the bore-well and power generator estimated to cost $107,500.00 have all been completed. We have concluded plans for Water Mission of Charleston to construct and deliver the water treatment plant.

The construction of the classroom block is on the way. We have also laid the foundation for one of the hostel blocks. As we work to continue progressing on this important plan, we need individuals like you to help in our efforts to complete the first phase of this project.  The first phase will be completed when we have the Girls Hostel, the Boys Hostel, the Dining, Classroom building, Kitchen and the Single Staff Quarters and the first one hundred students moving in. This phase is estimated to cost $2,848,919.74. We have taken care of some of the line items. 

We need about $1.9m ($1,907,386.58) to complete the first phase.

 
 

 

 
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