A doctor to heal the earth

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“The participants made an effort to inspire and educate individuals, schools, communities, corporate South Africa and policymakers to consider the environment and the challenges that we face as a nation and indeed as a continent,” says Ella Bella Constantinides Leite, director of Miss Earth South Africa. (Image: Miss Earth South Africa)

With a passion for people, planet and health, it is no surprise that Nozipho Magagula was announced as the 2016 Miss Earth South Africa at a gala dinner at Montecasino, that honoured the finalists and ambassadors for the environmental and community work done over this year.

The 4th year Medicine student has been hard at work balancing her studies and responsibilities as a finalist and has proven that if you want something done, giving it to a busy person, is a good idea.

Announced as the 2016 ambassador, she will go on to represent South Africa at the international Miss Earth event next month in the Philippines, as the focus turns to Eco Tourism.

The gala evening was attended by Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom who has been an avid supporter of the community work done by the Miss Earth South Africa leadership programme.

This young woman is set for an exciting year of work and community engagement across the country and globe. Born in Atteridgeville, West of Pretoria, Magagula is determined to use the year that lies ahead as an opportunity to make an impact, not only on schools and communities, but within the medical sphere as well.

She says her long term plan is to go into public health and family healthcare as these have a deep sense of community and the social impact that can be made is huge and she is resolute on using her love for medicine and her platform as Miss Earth South Africa 2016, to leave a legacy.

Ella Bella Constantinides Leite, Director of the programme said; “It’s rewarding to see the growth and influence of the Miss Earth South Africa programme, over a period of more than twelve years.

“We aim to continue to empower young women with the knowledge and platform to create a sustainable difference in our plight to combat the destruction of our natural heritage.”

It has been an intense few months for the finalists who have been hard at work, with a mission to change the perception and understanding of waste through the 2016 campaign #WasteStopsWithME which was launched earlier this year with partners Pikitup and the City of Johannesburg.

#WasteStopsWithME was executed through many different kinds of projects, campaigns and events.

These young women met with pickers in their communities, the staff working at landfill sites and those that depend on sorting recyclables from landfills just to survive.

The challenges we face on waste are immense and these young women took up the challenge and working closely with the Pikitup teams on the ground they moved across the breadth and width of this sprawling city of Johannesburg to talk to people, influence behaviour change and to start conversations and discussions with corporate partners and stakeholders alike.

Finalists have been staying at the Tsogo Sun, Palazzo Hotel, in Johannesburg for the past week where they got to share their community work with an esteemed panel of judges, unpacking their commitment and hunger to leave green footprints in their cities across the country.

Finalists were joined by the Tsogo Sun team in Diepsloot last week as they installed a Vegetable Tunnel with Nedbank, for student at Muzomuhle Primary School and did a clean-up around the school as part of their #WasteStopsWithME campaign.

Ella Bella also said, “The finalists demonstrated clear leadership qualities, creative thinking, strength of mind and of character, and most importantly, a passion for making a sustainable difference in their communities.

“The programme has been exciting and challenging and, whilst ensuring that these young women have made an impact on the communities around them, they have also delivered a service and compassion.

“The participants made an effort to inspire and educate individuals, schools, communities, corporate South Africa and policymakers to consider the environment and the challenges that we face as a nation and indeed as a continent.”

The evening was hosted by young up and coming South African comedian, Lihle Msimang, who added her comic flavour to the evening featuring an impressive guest list including UN dignitaries, South African actresses such as Kgomotso Christopher, Khabonina, Maps Maponyane and Yvonne Chaka amongst others.

The group of winners included Jeanine Keet, as first runner up, second runner up Elne Coller, and third runner up Mireesha Narsai.

The four winners are joined by their official ambassadors for the year, Mandisa Mqolombeni, Hasesha Naidu and Annie Kirsten.

The organisation is endorsed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Department of Tourism with Minister Molewa stating that; “Through your work locally and internationally, you continue to make our country proud.

“I wish you success in the future and thank you for partnering with government and business, to make a better world.”

Executive Director of Miss Earth South Africa, Catherine Constantinides said; “Climate Change will be the biggest challenge we face in our lifetimes, and it’s up to us to realize that we will be the catalysts for change that will push our countries towards a greener tomorrow.

“Planting a tree might seem like a simple act, but in effect it’s about being part of a global movement to secure a future for the generations to come.”

SA’s green girl goes home with a very special prize package including a fully paid for international trip to the Philippines next month where she will represent the country and the work of the organisation.

The programme is proud to work throughout the year with Pikitup and the City of Johannesburg alongside Tsogo Sun, the official home and venue partner of Miss Earth South Africa, and strategic partners SAPPI and Newsclip Media Monitoring.