Windhoek – Gold winning Paralympian Ananias Shikongo this week kicked off his Buy-a-Brick schools tour campaign.
Shikongo, who recently signed an agreement with Standard Bank to raise awareness on the flagship project, started the tour at Academia Secondary School in Windhoek on Wednesday.
“I’m glad that Standard Bank gave me the opportunity to motivate learners through the Buy-A-Brick project because my story can serve as a form of encouragement for them,” Shikongo said.
The Buy-a-Brick project was launched in 2015 through a partnership between Standard Bank and the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN) to mobilise the private sector to aid in alleviating the housing shortage through the sale of token bricks in the form of erasers.
The proceeds are used by SDFN to build cheaper houses for disadvantaged Namibians.
Shikongo’s message resonated with the learners, especially because he was also a part-time learner at that school when he was in high school. Seeing one of their own achieve what he has encouraged them.
“It is very important to share my story because I have a disability and I can teach our learners that people with disabilities can do anything they put their minds to,” he explained.
Shikongo, who is completely blind, won two bronze medals and one gold medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Standard Bank previously rewarded Shikongo for his excellent work by donating a house worth N$500 000 to the athlete.
“I want to motivate learners to stop putting up facades of who they are and stop showing off. They need to respect their teachers and focus on their studies because once they leave school they will be on their own, all the luxuries they had as learners will be gone,” he stressed.
Impassioned by his motivational talk, a learner at the school approached Shikongo to share his dream of wanting to become an athlete, but could not see it through because he has weak lungs.
“When the young boy approached I advised to never give up and instead find another sport that will be compatible with his condition. If you have talent in sports you should take it seriously and pursue because you could be really successful at it,” he encouraged.
The Paralympian also advised able-bodied learners to treat people with disabilities with respect and stop making fun of their disabilities.
“The future is undetermined, one does not know where they will end up so always do your best in all your work, you do not want to live with regret,” he stressed.
Herman Rust, the principal of Academia High School, said: “It is always good to hear from someone from outside, because the learners hear from us, the teachers, every day. An inspirational person, like Ananias Shikongo, has more impact on the learners, so we are grateful that he came to talk to them,” he concluded.