Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
MISS Earth Zimbabwe Sandisiwe Bhule who returned this week from Philippines where she had gone to represent the country at the Miss Earth finals has described the experience as an eye opener.The 25-year-old said although she did not make it to the top 16, she was grateful for the experience as she learnt the importance of advocating for environmental issues through modelling. Philippines’ Jamie Herrel was crowned Miss Earth 2014.
“Beauty pageants are a good platform for people to advocate for change in how we treat our environment. When people destroy the environment, it has implications on their tourism and the country’s rich biodiversity which is the main tourist attraction of the Philippines,” Bhule said.
She said the Philippines take the Miss Earth pageant seriously because it has a bearing on their economy which relies on tourism.
“The whole pageant was televised live and also streamed live on the Internet. It was given a national platform which is an indication that the pageant was very important,” Bhule said.
During her stay, she had an opportunity to visit schools and teach pupils on the dangers of destroying the environment.
“I was surprised by the pupils’ knowledge of issues to do with the environment at most primary schools I visited. They knew a lot about the environment despite being so young,” she said.
Bhule, who is friendly by nature, made a lot of friends during camp and won the Miss Friendship competition.
“It wasn’t surprising that I won the gold in the Miss Friendship competition because I was interacting with many contestants. I made friends with girls from the USA Virgin Islands, South Africa, Puerto Rico and Chinese Taipei,” she said.
She added that her trip was more of a self discovery as the competition brought out characteristics in her that she never thought existed.
“I learnt that I’m a very confident person who’s inquisitive and likes to learn other people’s cultures. I was always interacting with other contestants and I leant a few words in different languages.
“We were treated like stars and the people from the Philippines are very kind,” Bhule said.
Looking into the future, Bhule said she would continue working on her project that entailed having community-based solutions to challenges of climate change.
“The community is the one that can reduce the effects of climate change. Waste management and aforestation are key to combating climate change.
“I believe coming up with community-based solutions with government support is the only way to come up with lasting solutions to climate change callenges,” she said.