A highlight of the annual Miss Garden Route and Klein Karoo pageant was the introduction of representatives from the four shelters participating in the event.
Inset: "I dream of becoming a doctor," says Vuyo Mahlulo (16), from Lukhanyiso shelter in Knysna, winner of the make-over competition. Here she is with Ella (left), her mentor and manager of the shelter and an unidentified frie-nd. Photo: Christiaan Sales (Photo: Mossel Bay Advertiser)
Leading up to the event, apart from their therapeutic process, these women were treated to a day of pampering, to experience another aspect of restoration of their femininity.
The four finalists from the shelters were interviewed by Natasha Sutherland, representing her Big Heart Foundation and Michelle Cawood-Van Vuuren from ISP in George, an event partner since the pageant was hosted eight years ago.
The four finalists were chosen for their overall appearance, neatness and personal development, taking charge of their lives and being ready for the world out there since their make-overs were conducted.
Vuyo Mahlulo (16) from Knysna's Lukhanyiso was named as the winner and delivered a moving acceptance speech that gave the audience much to contemplate. Vuyo desires an education.
She shares pageant winner Will-Mari Wolhuter's dream of becoming a doctor, proving once again that there are more things that unite people, than divide them.
"What impressed me most about her, during her interview, was that she doesn't want people to feel sorry for her.
She emanates strength and willpower," says Natasha Sutherland, who acted as judge for both sections of the pageant.
Sutherland has been supporting this cause for the past three years and has been very involved, especially with the shelters for abused women and children.
Ella Mahlulo, last year's winner from Knysna and manager of Lukhanyiso, is a dynamic speaker and has shared the stage with Sutherland earlier this year at women's event, telling her inspiring story of surmounting the odds to succeed in life.
All funds raised during the event will go to the four shelters supported through this project – Phambili (George), Lukhanyiso (Knysna), Creating Effective Families (Mossel Bay) and Malibongwe (Oudtshoorn).
Event sponsor, Coco-Cola will also make monetary and product donations to the various shelters.
By Cornelle Carstens