Residents of Nyor-Butuo and its environs near the Ivorian border with Liberia in Nimba County were excited over the weekend when they witnessed a ceremony marking the official launch of the Benjamin Karmon Sehkar or the BKS (Education) Foundation in the town.
The well organized ceremony was attended by an array of officials, including Nimba County Electoral District #5 Representative, Samuel G. Kogar, who made an initial contribution of L$20,000 to the Foundation.
Before making the donation, Rep. Kogar urged officials of the Foundation to work in line with the entity’s objectives, rather than getting involved with local politics.
Others attending the program were Deputy Director-General of National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE), Dr. Kadiker Rex Dahn, and the former Assistant Minister of Youth Services at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Teeko Tozay Yorlay.
The launch of BKS Foundation, Inc. was characterized by singing and dancing of traditional songs with traditional mask dancers (long and short country devils) entertaining the gathering.
Earlier in his keynote address under the theme, “Manage Yourself,” Mr. Yorlay challenged members of the organization to manage the students because, according to him, the students have the desire to learn, but the means are limited, and therefore, the coming of the BKS Foundation is one of the blessings. This is because one of its objectives includes providing scholarships for students.
As for the overview of the BKS (Education) Foundation, the president and chief executive officer (CEO), Mr. Irvin Gaye Sehkar, said that as a not-for-profit organization established in memory of his father, the late Benjamin K. Sehkar, the BKS Foundation work to build the capacity of students.
The late Sehkar was a broadcast journalist, who at the height of the 1990 Liberian civil war was allegedly arrested on orders of soldiers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and subsequently killed.
“We intend to create the BKS Scholarship scheme for students attending all the major universities in and around Liberia,” the CEO said.
The mission is to provide the means and access to good, reasonable and quality education for children of underprivileged and disadvantage communities in the country.
For that, each of the founding members is committed to provide educational opportunities to every child in Liberia regardless of the constraints, while at the same time, teaching them the word of God.
The vision one day to realize a Liberia in which children from all the 15 counties have equal access to quality education in this era of global competitiveness. The members envision a Liberia in which children from disadvantaged parts of the Liberian society would receive quality education in a safe, constructive, and well-staffed educational facilities.
The vision is based on Ecclesiastes 7:12, “For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.”
In addition to that, the entity provides school supplies (notebooks, pencil, backpacks, crayons, rulers, etc.) to the disadvantaged students in Liberia. BKS Foundation, Inc., in partnership with the Messiah Christian Academy (located in Ganta City, Nimba County), which awards tuition assistance to underprivileged students from the Buu-Yao District, Nimba County. The scholarship continues the legacy of the late Ben Sehkar, who hailed from the Buu-Yao District.
BKS Legacy Scholarships are awarded to students from the Buu-Yao District, who are currently enrolled at the Messiah Christian Academy, and students who are intending to enroll. The Scholarship recipients are expected to complete annual service projects with young children and demonstrate leadership potential through involvement in school or community activities.
According to CEO Sehkar, Buu-Yao students at all levels of academic achievements may qualify for this grant. The selection process, he said, highlights an applicant’s attitude toward education, willingness to provide service to children, and financial need.
Besides his position as CEO, Irvin currently works as a general manager at one of Ossip Optometry's locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. He works closely with the doctor in maintaining a teamwork environment as well as providing a transformational eye care experience to every patient.
Born and raised in Nyor Butuo, Nimba County, the North-Central portion of Liberia, the late Benjamin K. Sehkar served as a reporter at the ELWA radio station from 1983 to 1990, rising to the position of Assistant Gio (Dan) Program Director. His passion and love for education was exceptional with a dream to help the underprivileged children in his home town and region with access to affordable and quality education. After his death, his dream was temporarily delayed. But his son, Alvin Gaye Sehkar, decided to further his father's legacy by establishing the BKS Foundation, Inc. in 2013.