The International Community of Women Living with HIV is profoundly saddened by the loss of Veronika Kalambi, who was laid to rest over the Easter weekend by her family and friends in her hometown village of Onankali in the north of Namibia.
ICW has lost a sister and our movement has lost a powerful voice for change. Veronika was a tireless advocate fighting for the rights and well-being of women living with HIV in Namibia and demanding justice for women whose rights have been violated.
Over the course of her career Veronika worked with young people and women of all ages to ensure they knew their HIV status and their sexual and reproductive rights, and she supported many women living with HIV through pregnancy and the steps for prevention of vertical transmission. She leaves a powerful legacy as she was a role model and mentor to many young women living with HIV.
Notably, Veronika was a co-founder of the Namibian Women’s Health Network and may be best known for her groundbreaking work documenting cases of forced and coerced sterilization. Her work contributed to litigation on behalf of women living with HIV who had been forcibly or coercively sterilized. Veronika’s dedication and work was recognized at regional and global levels.
Even though she was ill, Veronika never stopped fighting for justice. She touched the lives of so many women and she will be well remembered for her easy smile and compassion as well as her strong voice, championing the causes of people living with HIV, especially women living with HIV in the struggle for gender and human rights.
The ICW family sends our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones at this time.
When I met Veronika, I felt I had made a true friend and a fellow sister fighting for women living with HIV. I admired her tenacity and humor. She made me laugh when things were tough and she was always there to help me figure things out, listen to me when I was upset, and cheer me up when I was down. I remember fondly our shared plans, our struggles, hopes and dreams for women in our communities. Veronika was fearless and forever curious about - everything. I saw strength in her easy smile which she shared even when I knew she was in pain.
I am reminded of a quote which brought us courage and resolve:
“There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will"
The loss of Veronika is beyond our will. Yet, her life and activism continues to inspire me and many sisters whose lives she touched. She will be missed and well remembered.
Receive my love my Dear Friend. May your Soul Rest in Peace.
- Charity T Mkona, Chair of the ICW International Steering Committee
Veronica was not only a colleague in the fight for women living with HIV she was a big sister who I could always cry on...she was one of the first people I opened to about my sterilization and lucky that time she was a voice for us and her support was phenomenal. She was a true advocate for justice, a soft spoken lady with a powerful message !
- Jo Ann Livey Van Wyk, ICW Namibia Leader
Veronica was more than just a friend, she was a fierce advocate for social justice. She stood up for what she believed in and was always ready to fight for the rights of those around her. She was fearless and like I always liked telling her- “Jy skrik for niks” You are afraid of nothing.
Through her wisdom and sharp insight, Veronica taught us all so much. She made us see things in a different light, and for that, we will always be grateful.
- Jody Lee Fredericks, Strategic Legal Advisor