Paralympian champion Ananias Shikongo last signed an agreement with Standard Bank to help raise awareness on the bank’s Buy-A-Brick initiative which in return the bank will fund the construction of Shikongo’s new home.
In 2015, Standard Bank and the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia launched their flagship Buy-A-Brick campaign aimed at mobilizing the private sector to aid in alleviating the housing shortage through the symbolic sale of token bricks in the form of erasers. The proceeds from these ‘bricks’ are then used by the federation to build affordable houses for disadvantaged Namibians.
Shikongo, who is completely blind, won two bronze medals and one gold medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Shikongo is uniquely equipped to raise awareness on the landmark campaign because he has lived in a shack most of his life.
“It’s quite commendable to note that the twenty-nine year old Paralympian athlete made Namibia proud by winning three medals at last year’s summer Paralympics. We are signing a contract with Shikongo to partner with us in raising awareness about the Standard Bank Buy-a-Brick initiative through various marketing activations over a one year period,” Standard Bank’s Acting Head Marketing Sigrid Tjijorokisa said.
Standard Bank previously announced that they will rewarded Shikongo for his excellent work by donating a house worth N$500 000 and the construction of the house will commence this year. The location where the house will be build is yet to be identified.
“As a corporate entity we saw the need to reward Shikongo for this determination and courage to achieve his dream against all odds. Shikongo made a choice and chose not to let his circumstances determine his future. It is this kind of courage and determination that we recognised and decided to award him an amount of N$500 000 which will be used to build Ananias a decent place, that he can call home,” Tjijorokisa stressed.
Jubilant Shikongo said he was happy by the project and applauded the bank for its support. He said that through sports, disabled people like himself were trying to make something of themselves. He also spoke of the high housing prices that his peers cannot afford at any time in their lives.
“Disabled people need home but so does the rest people who are really doing their best to put the country at the top. One needs to take so many years of saving in order to be able to afford a house. In fact, some people have been working for a long time but they cannot afford to buy a house,” he said.
He added that the house to be built is not only his but for his family and other paralympians. “Sometimes my family members come to Windhoek to seek medical attention but they have no place to live. At least now they can come and live with me. I also want to accommodate other para-athletes who have nowhere to stay when they come to Windhoek for competitions.”
Through the ongoing Buy a Brick fundraising project, Standard Bank handed over a total of N$1.4 million to the bank’s Corporate Social Investment beneficiaries, the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, who subsequently began construction on 40 new houses for its members in Rehoboth in 2016. By the end of last year substantial number of houses was completed and the new homeowners had already moved in.