On the night she was crowned, Miss Malawi Susan Mtegha promised the nation she would embark on a charity campaign to serve the underprivileged. In this interview with Paida Mpaso, she talks of her passion for children and her being an ambassador for the Crops of Love Ministry.
Tell us about crops of love…
Crops of love is a Christian ministry run by Dr Kim Â and Mr G Bobby. They work with Malawi Prison Services to transform inmates from takers to givers. So far, Crops of love Ministry is working with Makande Prison which is a pre-release centre, where inmates grow maize and soya beans. They also have a factory on the prison premises where they later process these crops into Likuni Phala which they eat as breakfast. They also donate some of this Likuni Phala to primary schools and hospitals as a way of giving back to society.
How did you get involved?
Dr Kim has worked with some of the previous Miss Malawi title holders. My managers introduced me to him and I got interested in the project. I feel privileged to be part of this mission.
What caught your attention?
Part of it has to do with children through the â€˜feed the childrenâ€™ programme. I have a passion for children and prisoners. I am greatly touched by under privileged children and the overcrowded conditions in our prisons; you never know who might end up there someday. It could be you or your relation. I would like to help no matter how little I have to offer. I accepted the offer to become ambassador of the ministry because it is in line with my passion and that of my office.
Is there anything in your upbringing that you think has contributed to your interests in children?
Not necessarily, but I believe that we have all seen a lot of child suffering. A lot of children are being abused and living in abject poverty. Some are orphans who go through all sorts of hardships. It just kills me to see innocent little lives suffer because I believe every child should be given an opportunity to a bright future as they are the key to a better Malawi.
What other charity projects are you involved in?
Last month, the Miss Malawi office carried out a big walk aimed at buying jerseys and shoes for underprivileged school going children. This will go towards a project I am working on; I would like to adopt a village. So far, pledges have been made by a few warm hearted Malawians and Miss Malawi highly appreciates the support. Other than, I will soon start hosting motivational talks. I have a lot of big plans and the rest of Malawi will get to witness them as they unfold.
What makes you happy?
Seeing my family happy, lending a helping hand to those that most need it and being at peace with myself, knowing that I have nothing to worry about because my God has already taken care of everything. That is what makes me happy
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Malawi but I grew up in Botswana. I am the seventh born in a family of eight children. There are three girls; the rest are boys. My older siblings are all working and have families of their own. My younger sister, the last born of our family is currently studying social sciences at Chancellor college in Zomba.
Did you expect to become Miss Malawi?
No one goes into a competition expecting to lose, so yes I was hoping to win and I did. I was a bit nervous because I did not know how the crowd would react but I knew I had to give it my best and that is what I did. I must say, however, that I was up against talented, beautiful girls and this made it even more competitive.
How did you feel when you won?
It took me a while to believe that I was the new queen. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and still do not believe it. I feel like Susan Mtegha, not Miss Malawi and I think that is what helps me stay humble.
How do you keep your skin looking good?
I try to drink a lot of water and I never sleep with my make up on.
Where did you do your primary education and secondary education?
I did all my schooling in Botswana from nursery school to university. I have an advanced diploma in Business information systems but I plan to further my education as far as a PHD God willing.
Most people have a negative perception of models. What would you say to this?
As Miss Malawi I am not a model. Modelling and beauty pageantry are two different things. But as Miss Malawi, my office demands that I strive to be a good role model and a servant to those in need. But I believe that in every industry there are decent and indecent people so it would be wrong to generalise.
What do you intend on bringing to those you are working with?
I intend to bring positive change to the people I work with, something that will leave everyone I interact with, with hope and encouragement for a better tomorrow. I believe the change I want to see has to start with me.
How are balancing school and being Miss Malawi?
I have taken a year off school I will resume my degree course next year. This is actually how it is in other countries too, even those that work are given a year off without danger of losing their jobs, a direction that Malawi needs to take.
How have your parents supported you in your modelling career?
My parents were very supportive and they still are. They know doing this makes me happy and they trust my decisions, besides they are still my parents so they still advise me on what they think is good and what is not.
Any last words?
Thank you to my fellow Malawians for all the support you are showing to this office. I pray and hope that we continue holding hands to make a difference. There is no use complaining about something and yet do nothing about it. Malawi needs to embrace the office of Miss Malawi as a branch that is there to play a big role in uplifting and appreciating women. It is a positive tool for empowerment and development.