Shack dwellers gear up to build their dream houses

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-After years of hoping and waiting to provide decent brick houses for their families, members of the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) in Windhoek’s Havana and Okuryangava settlements as well as those from Berseba and Otjinene towns are set to begin building their dream houses.

Most of these people migrated to Windhoek from smaller towns and villages in search of a better life in the city, only to find themselves without decent housing and no or low-income jobs. However, through the assistance of corporate Namibia life will become easier for these individuals.

Last month, Standard Bank’s chief executive Vetumbuavi Mungunda handed N$2 million to the federation in Havana, surrounded by the elated community members. The flagship Buy-a-Brick initiative was launched in 2015 to aid in alleviating the housing shortage in the country and the bank previously donated N$1.4 million to the federation. The proceeds were used to build 40 new houses in Rehoboth last year. Although Elizabeth Nipondoka lives in Otjomuise and was not one of the people who received a grant to build her house, she was joyful all the same, dancing and ululating as Mungunda handed over the sponsorship.

“I have been a member of the federation for eleven years and I am part of the Natangwe Savings group under the Shack Dwellers Federation. We are still waiting on the municipality to service our land – we have no water or electricity and life is really hard but today I am happy, seeing my fellow federation members receiving grants gives me hope that we are next,” an excited Nipondoka said.

Fellow federation member Selma Namwandi also expressed her excitement noting that although she had not yet received land from the municipality, however Standard Bank had restored their faith. “We are very happy with Standard Bank because they always help us out and now. The bank made us a promise and kept their end of the bargain, we are so happy,” she said.

Thapalo Peterstone, who lives in One Nation, concurred with Namwandi stressing that Standard Bank was exemplary in its corporate social investment initiative, as it is directly giving back to the community and urged other corporates to follow their lead.

Ludwig Diergaardt, who also lives in Otjomuise, couldn’t contain his joy, saying: “This donation is a really good thing, we are all happy and people’s hearts are now overjoyed knowing they will soon have their homes. We are looking forward to when our day (to receive the grants) also come.”

Members of the SDFN normally divide themselves into various saving groups, and they use those proceeds to buy the ervens and build their homes. The Khomas region has about 156 savings groups who have managed to raise about N$8 million.

The recipients of the grants, which they get on top of their savings, are required to pay it forward by paying back the grant so that other members can also use it to build their houses.

The FNB Namibia Foundation Trust also recently renewed their partnership with Ohorongo Cement and Pupkewitz for the SDFN initiative. The initial agreement was signed in March last year and the FNB Foundation pledged N$1 million per year for three years.

The total contribution by these partners thus far has been Ohorongo Cement to the value of N$1 million, which is sold by the Shack Dwellers Federation Namibia (SDFN) to their members and the monies are paid into the revolving fund.

The Pupkewitz Foundation donated N$1 million worth of building material, while FNB Namibia Foundation Trust also contributed N$1 million to SDFN. Over the past year, 91 houses have been built across the country: at Otavi 20, Tsumeb 33, Tsandi 12, and Omaruru 26.

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