Standard Bank Namibia has made good on its promise to build a house for Paralympic gold medalist, Ananias Shikongo, almost two years after the lender pledged to assist the athlete during the 2016 Disability Sports Namibia (DSN) Awards ceremony.
Namibia’s second Paralympic gold medalist currently lives in a shack in Goreangab in Windhoek. The bank announced on Thursday, during a ground breaking ceremony in Greenwell that construction of Shikongo’s two-bedroom house, worth N$500,000, will start in a few weeks’ time.
Shikongo was accompanied at the ceremony by his fellow paralympian Johannes Nambala, winner of two silver medals also at the Rio Games.
Both athletes live together in a shack with their family members.
The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero, National Housing Enterprises (NHE) Chief Executive Officer, Gisbertus Mukulu, Standard Bank Acting Head of Marketing, Sigrid Tjijorokisa and other staff members from Standard Bank.
Speaking at the event, Tjongarero called on other companies to follow in the footsteps of Standard Bank by supporting other paralympians.
“Big thank you to Standard Bank and NHE for reaching out to Namibian athletes with disabilities,” Tjongarero said.
According to Tjijorokisa, close to 500,000 Namibians live in shacks in the informal settlements countrywide despite Namibia’s population of only 2, 3 million.
In October 2015, Standard Bank launched its Buy-a-Brick initiative to raise funds to build affordable houses for the low and middle income earners through NHE.
“In 2016, Standard Bank handed over a total of N$1,4 million to the Buy-a-Brick to construct 44 new houses in Rehoboth, while last year, Buy-a-Brick received over N$2 million to build 54 new houses in Otjinene in the Omaheke Region, Berseba (//Karas Region, Havana and Okahandja Park in the Khomas Region,” Tjijorokisa said.
Shikongo dominated international headlines at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when he scooped a gold medal in the men’s 200m T11 race and two bronze medals in the 100m T11 race and 400 m T11.
The athlete told the Windhoek Observer that he is thrilled that he will finally get his dream house after months of waiting.
“I started my journey (athletics) in 1997 and now it has finally paid off with the house that I am about to get,” Shikongo said.
Johanna Benson was the first Namibian Paralympian to have a house built for her by the Walvis Bay Municipality after she won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics Games in London. She also has a street named after her in the coastal town.