Tsolo-born Miss Heritage South Africa finalist Babalwa Nomatshaka is on a mission to transform the lives of young rural girls by hosting talks encouraging them to see life beyond the hills and valleys.
Nomatshaka is one of three Eastern Cape women who have made it to the top 10 of this year’s Miss Heritage SA. The other two are Zintle Zincume and Amanda Masteki.
Miss Heritage South Africa is an annual beauty pageant which was founded in 2014. The winner goes on to compete in the Miss Heritage Global pageant.
In 2015, East London’s Ziphozinhle Ntlanganiso was crowned Miss Heritage 2016. The current winner is Sherianne Pillay.
“It’s a great pleasure to have been chosen as one of the young women to represent our beautiful province. This pageant has helped me grow as an individual. One of the things I have learned from this pageant is that not everything comes on a silver platter; one really has to work hard to succeed in life,” Nomatshaka said.
She said she was passionate about women empowerment, especially of teenagers.
As part of her work, Nomatshaka will be handing out sanitary towels to rural schools in Tsolo on August 25.
Next week she does motivational talks as part of her Women’s Month work.
The 28-year-old started her own youth development programme, called Construction to Perfection, three years ago.
Nomatshaka said she wanted to inspire rural girls to live lives that look beyond their backgrounds and current situations.
“With everything that’s happening out there, girls suffer the most. Coming from a small town where there are not many opportunities, it is platforms like Miss Heritage SA International that help us open doors we only dreamt of opening. It is an honour for me to be able to speak to other girls from small towns,” she said.
Nomatshaka, who has been doing a number of talks this Women’s Month, said she wanted to use every opportunity to motivate and inspire other young women.
“It is OK to dream big and want to make a difference in society regardless of where you come from.
“As Lupita Nyong’o would say, ‘your dreams are valid no matter where you’re from’,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the support she has been receiving from both her family and community.
The pageant takes place on September 23 in Bloemfontein. — firstname.lastname@example.org