Building decent homes – brick by brick

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Windhoek

For Standard Bank growth is not only about Namibia’s economic progress, but also about addressing the developmental challenge of the country’s housing shortage through its Buy-A-Brick initiative, which was launched by First Lady Monica Geingos and chief executive Vetumbuavi Mungunda in October 2015.

The bank’s ultimate goal with the project is to raise funds to be handed over to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) to enable their members to build proper homes for themselves.

Nine months down the line, the Standard Bank Buy-A-Brick initiative has fast been gaining momentum, which became evident when the bank conducted a series of brick-making sessions with disadvantaged Rehoboth community members last month.

Over a period of three consecutive weekends, Standard Bank executives and staff got their hands dirty in helping less privileged communities of Burgershoek and Kavukiland make bricks in Block E (Extension 7 and 8) in Rehoboth.

“As a bank, we don’t just want to talk the talk, but also walk the walk by getting involved in helping poor communities to live sustainable lives. Corporate social investment is, therefore, part and parcel of Standard Bank.

“We invest one percent profit after tax into disadvantaged community projects, like these, in order to make a positive difference in the livelihood of Namibians,” says Standard Bank Group company secretary Sigrid Tjijorokisa.

After a quick meet and greet at the crack of dawn, a group of 100 Rehobothers were all too eager to grab spades, wheelbarrows and brick moulds to get on with job of making the much-needed bricks.

Bricks, which are destined to build a decent place that the people of Rehoboth can one day call their own.
Approximately 800 bricks were made over the course of three Saturdays – a gesture warmly appreciated by the participating residents, who were mostly women.

“This is a great project, because it empowers us to work for something that we want – a home of our own. We are helping each other and we can soon forget about renting at other people’s houses or living in a shack. At least we will have a roof over our heads,” said Sarah Diergaardt, as she vigorously shovelled the sand and cement mixture.

Sharing the same sentiment Dorothea Block, whose group #Oabate falls under the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia, says the brick-making initiative is highly welcomed, as most of the 500 families at Burgershoek and Kavukiland have lived in corrugated shacks for many years.

It is all too often these people and many others in the country end up getting evicted from backyard shacks because they cannot pay the monthly rent or due to hopeless circumstances and poverty.

For 44-year old Helen van Wyk having a place of her own is close to her heart, especially because she takes care of her 84-year-old sickly father, Paul Tities, who has never owned a property in his life.

“He now stays with me for the past 10 years with my four children, but he always wished he had his own home and that is why I am involved in this project,” she says. After she buried her mother in 2006 Helen made a promise to look after her father, as she does not want to put him in an old age home.

Hendrina Shuunyuni of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia says the initiative has also influenced other corporates and institutions to come on board in the provision of affordable housing to improve the conditions of low income households throughout the country.

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