HAWA KAMARA made history this week when she became the very first representative of Sierra Leone in the Miss Universe pageant.
The 25-year-old, who was crowned Miss West Africa in 2013, said her involvement in the pageant was an opportunity for the world to learn something about her country.
She told CNN: “It is very important for Sierra Leone to be a part of Miss Universe. We have gone through so many tragedies in our country, like the Ebola virus, and civil war. People (from Sierra Leone) don’t really get opportunities … because (others) think we’re not capable or that, as a country, we’re not safe.”
Hawa said it has always been her passion compete in beauty pageants “since I was at school” and encouraged young girls from all around the world to “stick to your dream”.
“I watched [beauty pageants] on TV, and dreamed that one day I’d be a part of this,” she said.
“You have to stick to your dream, and my dream was to come to one of the biggest pageants in the world. It’s not something that’s easy – you have to compete a lot.”
Winning Miss Universe, she said, “would be the greatest honour of my life”.
“It’s not just publicity for myself, but for my country as a whole. I want to welcome everyone to come to Sierra Leone. Everyone will love it.”
She hopes that the publicity from her entry into the Miss Universe competition would encourage more people to visit her home country.