Mak­ing a beau­ti­ful dif­fer­ence

Yolanda Bush­wana-Mh­lakela is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in her com­mu­nity through beauty pageants

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Pheto Ra­makobya

NOT a lot of peo­ple can de­vote their time and re­sources to help­ing oth­ers. But Yolanda Bush­wana-Mh­lakela, from Worces­ter, Cape Town, has ded­i­cated her time and skills to em­pow­er­ing young peo­ple in her com­mu­nity. She uses beauty pageants to help young peo­ple find their pur­pose in life.


The 35-year-old mother of two says it gives her great plea­sure to use her ex­pe­ri­ence and skills to up­lift her com­mu­nity, adding that it’s her way of show­ing peo­ple that you don’t have to be a celebrity or rich to change peo­ple’s lives.

“We look up to celebri­ties, for­get­ting the power we also have to be role mod­els in our com­mu­ni­ties. There are many hard work­ing young women who are push­ing hard to break bound­aries,” she says.


She says she felt like work­ing to bet­ter her­self and her fam­ily wasn’t enough.

“I em­barked on a jour­ney to help those around me with the lit­tle I have. A lack of recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties in my neigh­bour­hood had me re­flect­ing on my past and how it shaped the woman I am. The recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties that I took part in dur­ing my child­hood taught me to be­lieve in my­self and build my con­fi­dence. So my hus­band and I thought of a way we can give back and that’s where the idea to host beauty pageants came about,” she says.

“We had our first pageant last year. Peo­ple think beauty pageants only look at ex­ter­nal beauty, but judges also look for the right at­ti­tude and con­fi­dence. But it’s not only about beauty pageants, we run com­mu­nity-based projects, which are self-funded. Some of the girls in­volved in the pageants are part-time work­ers, so we con­trib­ute the lit­tle we have to buy san­i­tary tow­els for dis­ad­van­taged high school learn­ers. We also do­nate old clothes to char­i­ties and visit high schools in the area to mo­ti­vate learn­ers.”


Yolanda wants to bring about change in the lives of young peo­ple in her com­mu­nity.

“Apart from be­ing a mother of two beau­ti­ful chil­dren, my big­gest ac­com­plish­ment and pas­sion is start­ing my non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, The Pink Di­vas Foun­da­tion. Giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity us­ing my skills and knowl­edge is price­less. Through the or­gan­i­sa­tion, I am work­ing with girls aged be­tween 18 and 27 to make a dif­fer­ence in their lives and the com­mu­nity.”

“I am proud of Pink Di­vas beauty pageant’s unique­ness as it em­braces all shapes and sizes.”


Yolanda, who got mar­ried in 2013, has a lot on her plate, but she still makes time to give back to her com­mu­nity. She says you have to find a bal­ance in or­der for ev­ery­thing to be in or­der.

“I want to be the best mother I can be and I am proud to say that I am do­ing a rather im­pres­sive job. Along with be­ing a mother and run­ning beauty pageants, I also work full-time at the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices and I am study­ing to­wards an Hon­ours in Psy­chol­ogy,” she says.

A few years ago, Yolanda opened a busi­ness that sells clothes for lit­tle girls. “I dress young girls from birth un­til the age of six. I have a sup­plier who de­signs and man­u­fac­tures the cloth­ing.”

Yolanda Bush­wana-Mh­lakela's Pink Di­vas Foun­da­tion do­nates san­i­tary tow­els to dis­ad­van­taged learn­ers

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