Sat, 09 Dec 2023

WINDHOEK, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Wearing her sash adorning her outfit, Charlotte Namwandi encouraged young girls in Havana, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Namibia's capital Windhoek, to be daring.

Namwandi was crowned the first-ever Miss Youth Vibez, a pioneer beauty pageant aiming to empower and unleash the talents of young people in informal settlements in Namibia. The contest held on Nov. 19 attracted 15 participants from various backgrounds in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.

The 19-year-old Namwandi knows too well the challenges of growing up in an informal settlement. "I grew up in an informal settlement in Otavi town and understood first-hand how hard the limited opportunities and challenges youngsters face can be. But with my crown, I hope to impact youngsters' lives positively," she said Monday in an interview with Xinhua.

She said she hopes to implement empowerment programs that address the youth's social problems, such as teenage pregnancies and alcohol and drug abuse.

"Great guidance is hard to come by in informal settlements. I entered the beauty contest to impact their lives," said the first-year tertiary student.

"I will tackle this through education and guidance of youth to shift their mindset to become a better version of themselves to create a better society," she added.

The contest further aimed to inspire creativity in promoting environmental conservation and sustainability. The contestants also made outfits they paraded from old and discarded materials under the notion of reuse, reduce, and recycle.

"Through that way, we raise awareness about clean and green environments," said Christine, one of the contestants.

The pageant also propelled the youngster to embrace their cultural identity and promote self-love by modeling in natural hair.

Youth Vibez founder, Mathew Petrus, said the first beauty pageant hopes to groom young models to participate in other major beauty pageants nationally and represent Namibia on international stages.

The event also served as a platform to scout new talent for dancers and musicians from informal settlements.

"Namibia has many talented young people who live in the informal settlements which lack opportunities, recognition, exposure and financial support which drives them to crime and alcohol and drug abuse which destroys their lives," Petrus said.

In the interim, Namwandi hopes to train youngsters interested in becoming models. "To demonstrate to them that they can overcome many challenges and propel them into greatness with pride," she said.

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