Published on August 21, 2013
24-year-old Mira Tshilombo, who lived in Cornwall from 12 years old until this June, is vying for the top spot at the Miss AfriCanada Pageant. It’s an accolade she hopes to win and use for launching a “think-tank” outreach centre for young Africans and Canadians.
Published on August 21, 2013
By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – A former local resident is going for the crown and a chance to kick-start her own charity project that connects Canada with her African roots.
24-year-old Mira Tshilombo, living in Toronto since June, is vying for the top spot at the Miss AfriCanada Pageant. It’s an accolade she hopes to win and use for launching a “think-tank” outreach centre for young Africans and Canadians.
“If we're able to change young minds, we can change the future,” said Tshilombo.
Social and health problems facing the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she was born and raised until the age of four, when she moved to Canada, are a growing concern for the first-time pageant participant.
Tshilombo said she would especially educate people there on HIV/Aids and safe sex. She also noted the need to help victims of rape and ex-child soldiers through interaction and knowledge.
“I want to teach them musical instruments, to give them hope—many have been stripped of it,” said Tshilombo. “I don't want to be the leader at the centre, I want everyone to see themselves as being a leader, to learn from each other.”
The event takes place at City Playhouse Theatre on Aug. 24 in Toronto.
If crowned, she will be rewarded a trip to Africa where she can start her "dream" outreach program in the Congo. She would then open a youth centre in Toronto as well, where she’s a flight attendant for Air Canada. This way her travel resources could be used to bring a new positive front, in a place she says is full of divide.
Her crusade to raise spirits through “unity” started at her 22nd birthday, in Cornwall. She raised $800 for a non-profit organization in Congo called Women for Women.
The usual standards of beauty don’t exactly apply at Miss AfriCananda.
“I decided to join because there’s more of a charitable aspect,” said Tshilombo. “It focused more on what women have to offer, it focuses on intellect as opposed to beauty.”
Instead of contestants posing in a bikini, they are judged for several components that mostly skip the surface and find value in more heartfelt qualities.
Traditional African clothing and eveningwear will be worn for two of the judging components. A skills portion will also lend influence to the judges’ final vote. Tshilombo has written poetry all her life and plans on performing a spoken word piece. As a musical talent she will play the Djembe, an African-drum.
“I'm confident I will perform well,” said Tshilombo.
She did recognize the vast amount of talent she’s up against with the eight other contestants.
Social media and crowd attendance also plays a part in the final decision. The more interaction and activity her spot in the pageant gets on Facebook and Twitter, the higher her marks go.
Tshilombo has 42 brothers and sisters residing in Ottawa and Montreal and as well as the U.S. and Europe.
Her mother and niece, who reside in Cornwall, will be there, too. Still, Tshilombo knows what really counts is her ability to display leadership qualities.
“There are a lot of issues in world, but people remain silent,” she said. “Be involved with the community, every person should be.”
To help support Mira Tshilombo, visit www.missafricanada.ca.