I have been following the Miss Earth journey and finalists for a while now and on the 6th of October, Nazia Wazee was crowned as Miss Earth South Africa 2018-2019.
I hope you enjoy Miss Nazia’s inspirational story as much as I did.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your life story until now?
I was born in Johannesburg and raised in a small town on the south side of Johannesburg called Lenasia, bordering Soweto. I was raised single-handedly by my mother and grew up with my loving grandparents. My parents were divorced when I was three, my father became a victim of drug abuse and my mother a victim of domestic violence.
“What inspires me is my mother’s resilience and her strength, her ability to raise me on her own despite her experiences. To me, this truly embodies a powerful woman. Her ability to stand up for herself, her passion and strength have always inspired me, and I hope to be half the woman that she is.”
I am currently 21 years old, and I am doing my honours degree in Media Studies at the school of the Witwatersrand. I also completed my undergraduate at Wits; I completed a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Media Studies. I attended Parktown High School for Girls and really enjoyed my school years.
I like to think of myself as a responsible active citizen who is passionate about positive change. My long-term goal is to work at the United Nations, advocating for justice and being the voice of the voiceless. In addition, I am currently Miss Earth South Africa 2018 – 2019; I have been given the opportunity of being an ambassador of our beautiful Earth. I fell in love with the important messages that the organisation puts across like this year’s theme; #WasteStopsWithME. Encouraging people to take responsibility for their actions and help to inspire them to reduce their waste and discard of it in a responsible manner. This campaign is supported by the City of Johannesburg, Tsogo Sun, Brand SA and SANBI (the South African National Biodiversity Institute).
My journey as a philanthropist has begun with the understanding of human suffrage through exploitation or social prejudice at grass route levels. I have been given the honour of being the ambassador for the Youth Managers Foundation South Africa. The organisation aims to develop and discover leaders in underprivileged schools and provides them with the necessary tools, leadership skills and resources to make positive changes in their schools and their community.
I am involved in various welfare, cultural and goodwill initiatives, and was honoured to receive the Women of Wonder Award as well as a second place award for the Nelson Mandela Youth leadership award hosted by East Wave radio station.
I have a big passion for swimming especially competitive swimming, having represented Gauteng in 2012 at the Open Water South African Nationals; this has all lead me to become a qualified swimming teacher and level 3 first aider. My love of the performing arts started at a tender age and has allowed me the platform to share my talent of singing. Being part of the Miss Earth SA organisation has given me the greatest honour; to represent my country and mother Earth. I hope to continue to grow as an individual, and inspire others. Being from a small town and being announced as this year’s Miss Earth Winner is a wonderful achievement and I hope to raise the hopes of others, to inspire them in believing that nothing is impossible. The human spirit is amazing and even in the direst circumstances the instinct to survive triumphs everything.
What made you decide to enter Miss Earth SA?
I loved the ethos and was inspired by the fact that it is a women’s leadership program that aims to empower and educate South African women through the lens of environmental sustainability. Allowing young women to learn and grow through the programme, providing a pivotal platform to create a positive difference in the world and tackle environmental issues. The Miss Earth South Africa programme aims to create awareness with regard to various environmental issues, concerning conservation, sustainability and development. We drive the #WasteStopsWithMe campaign, which aims to address our current waste crisis, addressing and educating through community clean-up programs and school visits.
The campaign aims to address waste management, keeping our communities clean, separating at source (separating plastics, paper etc. in your homes) as well as the importance of recycling. We understand that social issues are directly linked to environmental issues and encourage running projects based on various social issues as well.
This experience being a part of Miss Earth SA has been an educational and enlightening experience and it has been an honour being part of the journey. This journey has been incredible and has afforded me so many opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. It has allowed me the opportunity to empower myself as well as those around me, by providing me with the knowledge and the platform to make a positive difference in the world currently and for future generations to come. Furthermore, this platform has allowed me to live out my true potential, break my barriers and allows me the opportunity to live out what I believe is my life purpose, which is to give back and make a difference. The aspect of being afforded the platform to make a difference, to be an agent of change and to empower and educate myself is the driving factor which lead me to enter Miss Earth SA.
What was your favourite part of the contest and the Miss Earth SA journey so far?
My favourite part of this experience is two-fold. Firstly, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have engaged with and shared this experience with a passionate and dynamic group of young women who are making sustainable differences in the world every day in their various communities. The beauty of sharing this journey with my fellow Earth Sisters is that we are all so different from each other; we all have different backgrounds, skill sets, knowledge and experiences. It has been great joy learning from my fellow Earth sisters and sharing in our knowledge and experience and building such great friendships.
Secondly, my favourite part of this experience has been bringing green thinking and greening projects to my small community. My community is fairly new to clean – up projects and the most fulfilling experience has been watching my community gradually become greener in terms of their thinking. As a result, more community organisations and initiatives are being initiated that are centred around the green theme. This would certainly not have been possible if I was not part of the Miss Earth SA program. Oh, and I have to say the prizes have been unexpected and I have been spoilt. I got my own pair of Adidas #SolarBoost sneakers, gym apparel from Lorna Jane, and of course environmentally friendly products from Matsimela, David Green Eyewear, Jenni Gault and Foreva Straws. I get treated to beauty care by The Brow Spot, Halouw Make Up, Bijan Hair Studio, Camelot Spa, Sandton Dental Studio. As I prepare for my trip overseas to represent South Africa at next year’s International Miss Earth I get to take a Vukani Original Dress with me as well as my very own set of Samsonite Luggage and Lipault Handbags.
What is your vision for the year ahead as Miss Earth?
My goal for this program is to expand my knowledge, grow, empower myself in order to address critical social and environmental issues within my communities. My aim is to create awareness with regard to the various environmental issues that we face, and possibly provide solutions to them. My aim is to beautify my environment and make my community a beacon of hope for what is possible, for the betterment of all. I hope to inspire young people to strive for a better future, to get involved in our community and follow their passions. I hope to further the #WasteStopsWithME campaign in my own community and in South Africa, in general, to help touch lives through this initiative to help it be the catalyst for change. This campaign is supported by Tsogo Sun, Montecasino, Brand SA, SAPPI, SANBI (South African Biodiversity Institute of South Africa) and Plastics SA. Remembering that Plastics don’t litter, people do!
What would you say is the most important thing people can do and changes that people can make towards a more sustainable way of living?
“I believe that the smallest changes can make the biggest impact in terms of being environmentally friendly.”
The objective of the Miss Earth South Africa; #WasteStopsWithME campaign, addresses that it starts with each person, each individual and the way we live in our day-to-day lives. If we decide to become more aware of what our impact is on our environment and then share that awareness with our family and friends we are more than halfway there. Living greener starts at home, whether it be refusing single-use plastic bags, cutlery and straws, separating our waste at source or recycling in our day-to-day lives, every change in our lifestyle habits make a huge difference.
I believe that as a society our biggest misconception is that cleaning up our environment or taking care of our environment is “somebody else’s job”. As a society, we look to organisations or even the government to solve the many environmental and social issues that we face in our communities.
The biggest lesson that I have learnt from the Miss Earth South Africa clean-up campaigns is, in embracing active citizenry we as citizens are able to tackle the issues we face in our society on our way, and we can do so effectively.
I also believe that it is important to acknowledge that environmental issues and social issues are consequential of other. Social issues are often caused by environmental issues and vice versa. Our ill habits are the cause of various environmental issues such as pollution, which in fact has various social consequences, such as declines in health, spreading of illnesses etc.
“If we decide to change our habits in our day-to-day lives, we can be part of creating a better world and reducing our negative impacts on the environment and essentially reducing the presence of social issues as well.”
You can follow Nazia’s Miss Earth SA journey on the following links :
Facebook: Miss Earth South Africa
Youtube: Miss Earth South Africa
Any additional links? @NaziaWadee @ChangeAgentsSA @EllaBellaC