Latwell Nyangu, H-Metro Reporter
…catching them young
Miss Pre-Teen founder Mary Yuki Mundeya has become a darling to many parents who hope to see their girls go far in the contest.
The pageant was birthed from an environmental perspective and catching them young is ideal.
Behind the idea, is a young and enthusiastic woman, Mary Yuki Mundeya (MM). H-Metro’s Latwell Nyangu (LN) caught up with her and she opened up on a number of issues. Read on…
LN: At what basis was this pageant birthed?
MM: The initiative is aimed at instilling confidence in young girls and empowering them to unleash purposeful lives at a tender age, bringing to life the adage that says ‘catch them young’.
LN: And your background prior to this initiative?
MM: The Miss Pre-Teen initiative started with me after I developed the passion for teaching.
I have been doing modelling coaching for the past two years for the UZ for instance their yearly held Miss UZ and I also did the same for ZOU and the Harare region. My love for teaching drifted from grown up people to kids.
I have realised that it’s important to go ahead and instill the values that we would want to see the next generation have whilst the kids are still young like this.
LN: And what values are you targeting to impart on the girls?
MM: Miss Teen Zimbabwe is a pageant based on the environmental awareness issues.
I thought it’s important that we instill the culture of being environmental cautious from a tender age and it not only helps individual that would have imparted with that level of understanding.
We also do peer to peer impartation whether at school or anywhere and they also share information with their families therefore the web growing.
LN: Where did you draw your inspiration?
MM: What inspired me to start was, there is documentary that I worked on last year, it was about vultures, which are endangered species and the role they play that on the environment, so I was like if we are getting to start a stage in our lives as a people and we don’t train the younger generation on how to be cautious when it comes to our flora and fauna. Making sure we stay in clean and safe environment that pushed me to start this.
LN: How many editions have been held so far?
MM: The initiative started last year and we had three months to prepare for last year’s inaugural competition and it was held on the November 29. The motive behind me establishing this, is for the love of teaching the kids to be particular, in this case, environmental related.
The pageant is based on environmental awareness and each and every year we will be having different themes that are linked to environment like last year we had the pageant running under the theme, ‘Moving towards a clean and safe environment’. Our winner from last year is an environmental ambassador who is moving with the gospel of productivity use of waste.
LN: Why focusing on Pre-Teen alone?
MM: It’s important that we instill values that everyone wants to see kids grow up with them especially when it comes to environmental issues. That they will be able to spread the environmental gospel everywhere they go and this year’s event will be our second edition.
LN: What have you achieved so far since the inception?
MM: We have successfully hosted the inaugural which was done within a short space of time and we managed to pull up since we had three months to prepare and select our winner who was Ashley Rutsvara from Mashonaland East (winner for the juniors) while Dominic Karase from Masvingo was the winner for the seniors.
The girls are currently undergoing intensive environmental awareness tutorials so that when they go ahead to speak in front of people they will be well informed. Showing deeper understanding of the environmental related issues and we also took part in clean-up campaigns, how to use waste, recycling.
We have also exposed the ladies to different stakeholders and they are undergoing different empowerment programmes. We are happy Dominic is doing advertising programmes and we are currently on the build up to our second edition with auditions underway.
LN: How far do you intend to reach?
MM: This year we are targeting all the provinces in Zimbabwe and we are still coming up with a mechanism on how best we are able to navigate and give each child a chance to audition and take part in the competition.
LN: And the response so far?
MM: The response has been overwhelming from the parents enquiring kuti vavo vana vanouya sei and last year we communicated and we have been receiving positive response. This year we have to up our game. This year’s programme is set for December. So we have ample to take many people as possible taking them through various programmes, screen them until we have the finalists.
LN: Andy why not focusing from 5 to 12, why only 6 to 12 years old?
MM: This year due to the demands and having parents, who have younger kids, we have introduced baby of the year whom we want to also take part which is for babies between one to two years.
We also have the toddler of the year competition between three and five years and those two are mainly going to be online competition. But the main event doesn’t change, they have to go through different activities until we get to the finals.
LN: What about going on a global stage?
MM: This is an idea that we will consider that but so far it’s still based in Zimbabwe since we didn’t want to overwhelm ourselves with a situation whereby we wouldn’t have made the impact of the environmental on our home land. We still laying the foundation and we are hoping to make a difference as much as we can push through the voices of our winners that we are amplifying and make sure that we will make much noise as we can. We will also see as many changes as we can when it comes to environmental issues in Zimbabwe and then we take the idea out to Southern Region.
We build partners and we will be like having the same competition in different countries and we also have hope to have Miss Pre Teen Southern Africa, where each country will be presenting a project related to the theme.
LN: What are the challenges you are facing?
MM: This is a project in its infancy and we managed to lay a foundation when we successfully held the first edition last year. We are living to our promise to the winners, their roles as environmental activist and we are hoping to get as many sponsors as possible this year. We are calling all environmental stakeholders, from non to governmental departments to come on board. We are hoping for partnerships as we equip our girls on environmental related issues. We are also looking forward to partners and help projects to go on. So individuals, companies, corporate and come on board.
LN: Tell us about the overall goal?
MM: The ultimate goal is to have a young voice to speak on environmental issues, advocating and we don’t neglect other important parts for example the age groups, we have various mentorship programmes whereby the ladies were taught on importance of education by model Sindiso Ndlovu while, Pauline Marere on charity work, and Polite Matunzeni mentoring the children. Sandra Dziwani a lawyer teaching them about their rights.
This year we hope to expand and improve the characters evana, menstrual health, mental health will be other issues to include this year. We also take our finalists to a basic teaching for instance public speaking, personal hygiene.
LN: The benefits of empowering girl child?
MM: For me it’s an opportunity that I never had as I was growing up so just being able to make a difference like in my life. I am hoping that I will get support from well-wishers to keep this dream alive and to impact the lives of girls in Zimbabwe and abroad.
LN: Do you think this initiative will last forever?
MM: When it comes to the initiatives that we are imparting to the winners, it will go far and personally I deal with the kids on a one on one basis and as I said winners are environmental ambassadors. They are undergoing intensive environmental training and we are making sure they are grasping whatever they are being taught. We will be pushing after the competitions, winners are not gonna be silent
I am working tirelessly that everything we do comes to fruition.