Maternal mortality in various parts of Africa is so vast that it is gaining attention world wide. It warms my heart to see a growing number of people and organizations getting involved to rid the continent of this medical affliction. In response to the incredibly high maternal death rates in Sierra Leone Victoria's Secret model, Selita Ebanks, has established a foundation called Shine on Sierra Leone, which directly addresses this issue. If we not only educate ourselves on global quandaries, but actively take steps to deal with them, so much positive change could be seen in the world. Yes she is a model and yes she is a celebrity, BUT Selita uses the resources available to her to make a difference especially with an issue close to her heart...something we all can do.
It was the summer before my senior year in college, I had spent all of my adolescent years preparing for medical school and the time had finally come for me to apply. My application was filled out and everything was ready to go, but… I just couldn’t press send. There was something holding me back. After much thought I realized that I was not ready. I was 20 years old and since the age of 12, my years entailed going to school then research in the summer. Year after year it was the same thing. Yes I loved it and yes it was fulfilling, but as I was making my transition from adolescence to adulthood I wanted to try something different so I decided to take time off of medical school to pursue other passions until I was ready to go.
I was not completely sure about what I wanted to do with my year off so I asked God to guide me in the right direction. Being privileged enough to get an education at Villanova University I knew I wanted to give back some of what I had learned to the community. I did not want to deviate from the healthcare track and I also wanted focus on improving the conditions Sierra Leone. As God would have it, I came across the recent Miss Africa USA pageant site while randomly browsing the web. I had auditioned when I was younger, but did not make it far. I figured it could not hurt to try again. The pageant did highlight my primary interests: humanity, culture, and beauty. After trying out in Washington, DC and going through a voting process, I received a notice that I was invited back as a semi-finalist.
The following day I began preparing for the next step. I chose reducing infant and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone as my platform because it posed as the largest healthcare issue affecting the women at alarming rates. I read articles, watched videos, and searched the web for all I could find on this issue and what I found was extremely heart wrenching. Through the process of choosing a project for this pageant I realized that this endeavor was much more than I had imagined. Addressing the issue of poor healthcare and reaching the people of Sierra Leone became a passion of mine that grew larger as I gained more knowledge of what Sierra Leoneans were experiencing.
In February 2010, the Miss Africa USA semi-finals were held in Atlanta, GA. I met many amazing young ladies, all with tremendous talent and all with great zeal for their respective countries. We shared our passions, exchanged laughs, and many memorable moments together. The weekend consisted of a ladies night where we learned more about what to expect in the competition, our project presentation, a video shoot, a photo shoot, and the evening ball. It was a fun and exciting weekend. There were definitely times when I was overwhelmed; however, I endured because I knew that this pageant was not just about me and my personal gain, but to reach out to people whom are in very much need of aid.
Two weeks later I received another notice informing me that I would be a finalist for the pageant representing Sierra Leone in DC this July. So here I am today launching my campaign The New Hope Movement. Taking time off from school was a life altering decision, but I would not take it back for the world. Many doors of opportunities have opened since and the movement has growing interest that is far beyond what I originally conceived. With all that said, I cannot take credit for anything. All I continue to do is trust in God and allow Him to lead me down the path that He’s prepared for my life. So far, it is better than I could have ever imagined. Being that this is a pivotal moment in my life, I am excited to see where it takes me in the next year. The journey is definitely going to be a memorable one.
Mameisia Kabia, Miss Africa USA Finalist 2010/11 Sierra Leone
"God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,