By Chuka Nnabuife
STARS tend to live in short brilliant flash. Those who know the story of Rev. Sister Virginia (Virgy) Obike and the Handmaids Girls’ Secondary School, Amansea in Awka North local Government Area of Anambra State will still be in pain, upon learning of the ghastly auto crash that claimed her life alongside that of her school’s bursar, Rev. Sister Monica Ilem, the school’s driver chamberlain Umunnakwe and the couple Emmanuel Okeke and his wife on Tuesday night.
Their pain would not only emanate from their gory and extremely disheartening route to death – burning to ashes in their vehicle after the accident and ensuring fire in late night when no rescue could come – but in the quality of victims.
Sister Virgy, as Obike was fondly called was one of the very few school administrators who can be described as astute and adept. She was entrepreneurial, managerial and intellectual. The Handmaids Girls’ Secondary which sprouted only recently in the outskirts of Amansea is a conspicuous evidence of her industry and success as a school administrator and focused visionary.
Within a span of seven years, the institution, set in a farmland when no neighbour was near, has evolved into a mega aggregation of structures and turned out ‘A Grade’ high school graduates. The school literally brought development and light to the environ but more importantly, became a direly craved learning ground.
During the institution’s first graduation ceremony, last year, the list of first class passes in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and admissions into universities and tertiary schools was a thriller to parents and guests who witnessed the event. Parents who only about half a decade before brought their daughters to a school with one lone structure saw a clan of blocks – classrooms, hostels, administration buildings, as well as a chapel and playground while more structures were springing up.
Unconfirmed stories have it that the principal bought the land of the school with her own money and built from her purse.
Always in her cleric all-white dress, from head to legs, the ebony black Sister Virgy has a problem with smiling or tell tales but getting near her even from a distance, reveals a woman with the heart of gold. She treated the over thousand girls in her school like biological daughters. She called them by their names and could tell you what they were when she admitted them and what they had turned out to be within the period they have been with her.
You needed not to be with her twice or in the school more than once to observe that Sister Virgy was ‘not joking’ with her business of raising outstanding girls of high level of discipline and academic interest. It would therefore, no source of wonder to those who knew her that she died while in mission to the hinterlands of Anambra State, in Ifite-Ogwari to get enough haul of food for her children.
Sister Virgy was in the mould of old missionary educationists who gave everything, including their lives to train other people’s children in the right way. She must be happy where is now, in heaven that she died while on duty – doing the thing she loved most. She will always be remembered for her call in the formation of girls.
It is noteworthy that she died while her pupils were on Second Term (Easter) holiday. Had the girls of Handmaids been in school when the death happened the whole hostels and classroom would be wet with tears now.
Good night Sister Virgy.