Interview with Nabila Mayet-Cassim
Johannesburg born and bred Nazia Wadee grew up in the small town of Lenasia South. She was raised single- handed by her mother, and grew up alongside her grandparents. At age 3 she experienced the divorce of her parents due to her father’s addiction to drugs and his domestic abuse of her mother.. Her mother’s resilience was an inspiration and is the epitome of empowerment – Currently 21 years old, enrolled in an Honours degree in Media Studies at Wits University, Nazia is an inspiration for women of all backgrounds.
IRTIQA had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with the down-to-earth Miss Earth semi-finalist and here is what went down:
IRTIQA: Tell us more about Miss Earth and what it embodies
NW: Miss Earth South Africa is a women’s leadership program that aims to empower and educate South African women through the lens of environmental sustainability, allowing contestants to learn and grow andproviding a pivotal platform to create a positive difference in the world and tackle environmental issues. The Miss Earth South Africa program 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 and 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.
IRTIQA: Tell us about your journey towards Miss Earth? How was the experience – the actual competition?
NW: This experience, being a semi – finalist for 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 it has given me the opportunity to live out what I believe is my life’s purpose, which is to give back and make a difference.
IRTIQA: Share with us your personal journey and achievements. What have you learnt so far and where to from here?
NW: I believe that I am a responsible, active citizen who is passionate about positive change. The core values and duties of a Miss Earth South Africa title winner are that which I would like to continue to associate myself with. As a former titleholder I fell in love with the important duties that a titleholder has and the massive platform available to create a better life for all. 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 afforded 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, leading me to be a recipient of a Women of Wonder Award as well as second place for the Nelson Mandela Youth leadership award hosted by East Wave radio station. My love of goodwill initiatives has recently awarded me the position of Head of Student Affairs on a university governing body.
My modelling career started at the age of 13, being signed to Alushi Model management. I am also the brand ambassador for Fati Gani Exclusive Evening Wear. My love of swimming and prior competitive swimming career, having represented Gauteng in 2012 at the Open Water South African Nationals, has also led 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 love of the performing arts as well as share my talent. Being part of this pageant has given me the greatest honour and I hope to continue to grow as an individual, and inspire others to aspire to a better life. Being from a small town, if I win this title it will raise the hope of others, to believe that nothing is impossible.
IRTIQA: How do you feel about being a Miss Earth South Africa semi-finalist?
NW: The human spirit is amazing. In the direst circumstances the instinct to survive triumphs everything – so me winning this title will allow others to follow in my path and escalate humanity and our humanness to a level I know we can achieve. I feel hopeful and blessed.
IRTIQA: Are you involved in any charity work?
NW: I have run various projects and initiatives thus far:
I worked on a project to start a vegetable garden at the Nirvana Haven Old age Home in Lenasia
I have held two communities clean up initiatives in my home town of Lenasia as well as tree plantings
I have hosted a free women only self-defence class
I hosted a Fundraiser for the Emmarentia Sporting Football Club at Wimpy Fordsburg
I did a visit to a children’s home called Home of Hope, where we hosted lunch, gave the kids gifts and taught the kids to repurpose used plastic bottles, turning them into beautiful things such as pencil cases and jewellery stands
I’ve done some school visits along with the my Miss Earth family (all the contestants and organisers)
In light of the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign, I work alongside Megan Johnson, who owns a stainless steel straw company called ForEva straws. Plastic is a harmful and toxic product that makes its way into our oceans and not only poisons our oceans, but also harms our beautiful marine life. This campaign aims to create awareness around the negative impact of plastic straws on our environment, or single use plastic in general. In this way, we encourage an alternative to plastic straws, such as the stainless steel straws- Plastic straws are not recyclable and will continue to accumulate and last forever in our oceans.
In terms of community work or charitable causes or projects there are no shortages of causes that are in need of assistance. My passion lies inhelping others, so in terms of the causes or projects I spearhead, I follow my heart and more importantly tend to the needs of organisations as they arise. I believe that we should do all we can in any way we can to give back to our communities.
IRTIQA: What do you hope to achieve?
NW: My goal or aim for this program or competition is to expand my knowledge, grow and 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 greater things, to get involved in their community and follow their passions. I hope to touch lives through my projects and initiatives. I hope to build lifelong friendships and bonds with the new people I have had the opportunity of meeting or the people that I will meet in the future. Furthermore, my aim is to empower those I meet along the way as well as those around me. Irrespective of the competitions outcome, if I achieve this, I believe that that will be my success.
IRTIQA: Advice you can share to people who want to pursue their dreams.
NW: I believe that we are all born with unlimited potential, and the only thing standing between our dreams and us is, ourselves. We all have this hidden power and potential within us, we just need to believe in ourselves enough to let it shine through. With perseverance and hard work, we can achieve anything. We should never become a victim of our circumstances. I believe in using difficult circumstances as opportunities for growth, for it is only during our toughest times that we learn the most about ourselves and the true strength that we have.