Miss Pacific Islands visit Samoa
The reigning Miss Pacific Islands, Leoshina Mercy Kariha, said the chance to visit Samoa this week has been the experience of a lifetime.
The 19-year-old, who is from Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.) arrived in Samoa on Wednesday to witness the Bluesky Miss Samoa Pageant this coming Saturday.
“This is my first time in Samoa, and the people and hospitality has been heartwarming. Having to experience the Teuila festival was once in a lifetime experience,” she said.
The pageant champion had the chance to watch fire knife dancing for the first time and said her heart was jumping.
“I wanted to witness the crowning of the new Miss Samoa and because our P.N.G. will be hosting this year’s Miss Pacific Islands, We are looking forward to welcoming your new Miss Samoa.
She is studying international relations at a University in P.N.G.. Her parents are Henry and Rosemary Kariha from Papua New Guinea.
“I really wanted to become a diplomat: going through this year, I realised that relationships are important in diplomacy because you are creating those links to support each other in investing into things that will help our future generations, and also development not only in the cities but also in the rural areas.”
When asked about her perspective on why women should enter pageants she said the "platform can transform young women become more confident and be bold about the messages that they stand for.”
“At first I did have a stereotype opinion towards a pageant that it was all about the beauty and glamour of the platform but now that I have gone through it myself, I encourage other young women to step into it if they get the chance be and be a voice for others.”
She is also a youth advocate and believes that they are the future of any country.
“If we are going to carry on from what our elders have left in their foundations, we have to start focusing on developing our youths and put in their mindsets that it’s our responsibility to lead our generations into the future and that we need to stop thinking about the peer pressure and being influenced by western social media.”
She also shared her thoughts about climate change being something everyone cannot ignore.
“We flew past Tuvalu and saw that half of the island has sunk, our leaders cannot ignore climate change because their roles should not revolve around putting up fancy speeches.
“We need real action and I really support Samoa’s plastic ban and also getting the community involved in public cleanups and planting more trees to combat climate change.
“Coming from P.N.G. we are a big island nation we look to support small island nations and I have seen firsthand how people in the villages suffer from lack of health care and education especially our women.”
A highlight during her reign was meeting children who had leprosy.
“Even though I have travelled throughout the pacific nations but a memory I would never forget was going back home to one of the rural areas where I saw some of the children that were actually happy although they had leprosy.
“It really changed my perspective and mindset to what I stand for and who I serve, for them to see a boat of tourists was the happiest moment.
“My motivation in life is God because He gave me the opportunity to step on a big platform where I become a role model to so many. I thank God for the blessings and it’s always the scriptures that keep me strong.”
Miss Pacific Islands will leave Samoa on Monday next week.