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Winning glory at Paralympics start career as ambassador for the Buy-a-Brick campaign

Winning glory at Paralympics start career as ambassador for the Buy-a-Brick campaign

Namibia’s Gold Paralympian, Ananias Shikongo this week becomes a Brand Ambassador for Standard Bank’s Buy-a-Brick campaign. On Thursday, he will be signing an Ambassadorial contract, officially turning him into a Buy-a-Brick ambassador. This follows the bank’s earlier announcement of purchasing a house for the Paralympian athlete.

By late 2016, a total of 55 houses were under construction through the bank’s Buy-A-Brick project, with 15 of the houses solely sponsored by the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia. So far 22 houses have been completed while the rest are making good progress with many homeowners expected to move into the new structures during the first months of this year.

One of the buy-a-Brick beneficiaries, 89-year-old Cornelia Rooi or “Ouma” as she is affectionately known, is a residents on the dunes in Rehoboth.

Ever since its inception in 2015, Standard Bank raised a total of N$1.4-million for the Shack Dwellers Federation for building new houses for the federation’s members in Rehoboth.

The bannk’s flagship Corporate Social Investment project mobilizes public and private support and contributions to alleviate 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. For beneficiaries like Ouma Rooi owning a decent property for the first time in her life is a valuable asset for herself and an inheritance for her family.

“My husband and my eldest son died in 1990 when they were run over by a train. It was raining heavily and neither of them saw it coming. Two more of my sons died after that and I was only left with one son and three daughters,” Ouma Rooi said last year when she learned she was approved for a new house.

The responsibilities of being the sole breadwinner fell onto her so she worked as a seamstress and domestic worker to provide for her family. Struggling to make ends meet, Ouma Rooi who has lived in a shack for as long as she can remember, thought she would never own a brick house.

“A lady approached me about the federation a while ago and urged me to join it which I did. I began donating the little I had, starting from N$5 to N$10 and eventually increased to N$100 and more. My savings within the federation began increasing, so that with their immense financial help and Standard Bank’s support, I could build my house” she said.

The Federation gives its members loans to build affordable housing with either one or two rooms, a kitchen and bathroom. Once they complete the building process, they begin repaying their loan which then helps another beneficiary, to start the same process.

“I have lived in a shack for most of my life; I never thought I would ever own a brick house. I now have something to leave behind for my children and grandchildren when I die. They will have a place to call home. The Buy-A-Brick campaign gives poor people an opportunity to own their own homes, something they would not be able to do otherwise and for that I am truly grateful. With this house I have shelter from the rain and shade from the sun,” Ouma Rooi said with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.

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