THE Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho (BPAL) has partnered with non-profit organisations, Jhpiego and Transvanguard, to combat the HIV and AIDS stigma through a series of community building initiatives.
Among the initiatives is a beauty pageant that is set to be held in the country in November this year.
The M10 million project is aimed at advocating for HIV and AIDS prevention tactics which include the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as well as developing sustainable projects which will enable both the infected and affected to earn a living out of.
Organisers said they would use beauty queens as drivers of the initiative in their different communities in the 10 districts of the country. Ten other ladies will serve as advocates of the project and will work closely with the beauty queens to ensure that they effectively promote it.
Speaking with the Weekender recently, Transvanguard chief executive officer, Reentseng Letsoela, said they hope to create over 150 jobs by September this year ahead of the international pageant.
“We recently auditioned and selected 10 ladies who will be trained and work as ambassadors in the 10 districts to promote the project,” Letsoela said.
“In June we intend to host community beauty pageants whose winners will work closely with our ambassadors in order to promote HIV and AIDS prevention. We chose beauty queens because they already serve as community leaders or role models so it will be easier to disseminate information.
“The beauty queens together with our team will further work with councillors and the area chiefs to identify development projects which they believe can sustain their livelihood. We will fund the project which will employ over 150 people.
“The models will further compete at the district and the national level while the winner should have been announced by September this year. She will eventually represent the country in the international pageant scheduled for November in Maseru.”
The BPAL president, Tlali Tlali said the international pageant is targeting to host 50 African countries and will be held in the country for two consecutive years before it moves to other countries.
“Our target is African countries thus uniting Africa in the fight against this stigma. So far 40 countries have confirmed participation but our plan is to have 50 countries.
“The 10 advocates will also be travelling to other participating nations to promote the same cause so that by the time that we get to the international pageant in November every participant will be on the same page.
“Apart from the 150 jobs, the international pageant will also create more jobs in the hospitality sector as we are expecting over 200 tourists during the time of the pageant,” Tlali said.