By Michelle Banda
Rhodes University student Putuma Balintulo is a semi-finalist in Miss Earth South Africa. The competition is the culmination of a five-month exchange between the participants, the programme, workshops, and campaigns, as well as the candidate’s community projects. It is aimed at empowering and educating young women between the ages of 18 to 28 on conserving and preserving the environment.
This collaboration allows for participants to find unique ways to carry out community projects. These include educating, greening, climate change awareness, and community development.
Different entrants join for different reasons, making the outcome vary as well. For Balintulo, entering the competition marked the start of her “earth journey”.
“I joined the competition to increase my network in the field of environmentalism, and continue being a proactive agent of social change and environmental transformation,” Balintulo said.
Orielia Egambaram, Miss Earth SA runner up 2017, commented, “I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Miss Earth SA gave me three years ago. It really impacted my life in many ways, to the extent that I am currently doing my PHD in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Storage Solutions. I’m so thankful to this programme and all the skills and empowerment it gave us. Thank you for believing in me and giving me the love and support I needed to grow into the woman I am today.”
The competition is part of a wider organisation that advocates for social development and environmental sustainability. For Balintulo this translated to collecting food parcels for Mandela Day, cleaning up Makhanda by collecting recyclable plastics, and planting trees with pre-scholars at Gladys William Pre-school.
Under the Covid-19 circumstances, the programme was kept active through several online educational workshops and forums to help continue the empowerment and education of the environmental community. Balintulo highlighted how the pandemic had given her a chance to fully understand nature’s beauty and why the Miss Earth SA competition was the right vehicle for her goals.
“The Miss Earth South Africa organisation has boosted my confidence to engage with people around me, encouraging them to care for the environment. South Africa is naturally rich. That natural wealth should be treasured and protected at all costs.”
In an interview with Ella Bella Leite, Director of Miss Earth South Africa, who has been part of the programme for the past 17 years, she emphasised how thrilled she is about the unique competencies demonstrated by each contestant every year. Each year, she looks forward to more “earth warriors”.
Should you want to know more about Miss Earth SA Competition contact Ella Bella Leite:firstname.lastname@example.org 0825050664 or browse the website http://www.missearthsa.co.za/