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Immanuel’s long walk for AIDS victims

Immanuel Sheefeni with a supporter, on a stop during his long walk from Ongwediva to Windhoek.

Immanuel Sheefeni with a supporter, on a stop during his long walk from Ongwediva to Windhoek.

Immanuel Sheefeni is a young man who used to live on the streets but now is an entrepreneur, IT training specialist, business consultant, a motivational speaker and HIV activist. After learning of his HIV status last year, he decided to become an activist, saying “I wanted to educate my family, friends and everyone else out there about the virus” He made it his mission to lead an extraordinary life and wants to teach others to do the same.
Having pulled himself out of such a difficult stage in his life, from living on the streets to achieving so much in just 12 years, he did not let his HIV status change his view or attitude towards life. “I am very passionate about people, I love to help and do what I can to make a difference in a life each day, I feel it’s one of the pleasures of life” he said smiling. “Perhaps when others hear of me they will see that my life experiences demonstrate that even in the midst of obstacles, it is possible to achieve great things.” Recently he embarked on a walk from Ongwediva to Windhoek, a distance of over 700km. The walk which was a form of activism and protest against stigmatization. He said “I wanted to do something that requires energy, to all sectors who refrain from hiring HIV positive people. This is my way of showing them that we can do physical work too, stigmatization is unnecessary.” He is dedicated to making a difference by breaking the silence about HIV/AIDS and changing the mindsets of those he comes into contact with.
Sheefeni had training to prepare himself for the long walk, “I ran to Doebra every day for 3 months” adding that he could not ask to be accompanied on this walk because he could not ask others to take the risk that he was taking.

At the moment he is approaching sponsors for his HIV awareness tour. The tour requires donations for a fundraising campaign to raise HIV & AIDS awareness in high schools, town councils, regional offices, ministries, support group centres, community centres and youth centre. He said this is a way for him to do his part against the social epidemic. The donations will enable him to buy a minibus, video cameras and a sound system as well as to hire three artists to attract as much attention as possible during the campaign. “During the planned tour I will be informing the public, even those in rural areas about the reality of this pandemic, teaching the people how to prevent exposure particularly the youth and children as they are the most vulnerable. Further, to promote regular screening and treatment measures and above all to prove that you are not condemned even if infected thereby avoiding stereotyping which is one of the biggest issues we face in our continent” he explained.  He acknowledged the efforts of the government to spread the word about the illness and prevent it from spreading. “I would like to urge our leaders to highlight HIV in their speeches more and those churches that discourage their members from taking medication should stop.” He issued a stern warning to young people: “Youths should abstain or always play it safe and use protection.” “I am a person who loves to be innovative and create new products and services which are useful and valuable to others. Throughout my life I strove and am still striving to keep myself creative. I love to collaborate and have associations with like-minded individuals and corporations who have similar visions and goals. For me money is the outcome of your work and one should always cherish the work he or she intends to undertake. Success for me is a task well done and I like to live each day. My success goal and mantra is “Never accept defeat.”  “I look forward to associate with experienced and enterprising professionals to take my ventures to new horizons” he said.

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