Windhoek-The 24-year-old fearless youth mentor, social worker and private investigator, Shaanika Nashilongo, has become one of the most loved and adored youth after initiating the youth organisation, Monica Gender Violence Solution (MGVS), at the beginning of last year.
Increased gender-based violence, poverty and criminal activities among the youth are some of the reasons behind the establishment of the organisation.
Born in Windhoek, Nashilongo did not have a privileged background. He was forced to move to the north with his grandparents in 1997, after losing his mother due to gender-based-violence (GBV).
“My mother suffered at the hands of my father, who beat her on several occasions,” Nashilongo recalls sadly, adding that ever since his life has not been easy, having lost his primary carer he was compelled to resort to washing cars and driving a taxi – even without a driver’s license – which led to his arrest, as he struggled to cope with his painful loss.
He grew up with his grandfather, who was the headman of Ombandaula village in the Uukwaluudhi Constituency. At the age of 13, Nashilongo’s grandfather appointed him deputy headman of the village.
“I was doing administration work and I learned a lot from my grandfather, especially on how to help people and resolve their problems without favouring any one,” says Nashilongo.
A major challenge came when he did not get enough points in Grade 10 to further his studies, and he did not have money to improve his marks. Moving to the capital city for greener pastures, however, proved to be a change for the worse.
At times he resorted to washing cars in Eveline Street before he got fired. He couldn’t return home without a job and started sleeping at Monte Christo fuel station for close to four months.
“The challenges I went through have shaped me to be the fearless leader I am today, because I saw with my own eyes how people are struggling with life, with a lot of challenges they are facing everyday.”
Last year, Shilongo officially launched MGVS and he currently operates from his home in the Havana residential area of Katutura.
He named it after Namibia’s First Lady due to her seminal role in the battle against gender-based violence. The organisation has been hosting workshops and seminars for men and women to find solutions to GBV.
It also advises and counsels those needing support following incidences of GBV as a form of social support, following incidents of GBV, as well as helping resolve conflicts within communities.
MGVS also helps with the implementation of projects and activities aimed at educating communities on relevant social issues, such as human rights, as well as teaching them to refrain from criminal and violent activities.
Having spent some time in prison and being aware of how tough life is on the inside, he strongly cautions the youth against the temptations of crime.
Nashilongo is now a final-year student at the Institute of Information Technology, where he is pursuing a diploma in computer engineering.
“The youth of today must believe in themselves, rather than believing in other people. The most important thing they must do is to get themselves a mentor, so that they will be guided” to avoid taking the wrong path, he concluded.