Working hard to make dreams come true

Published Jun 22, 2024


Durban — Lavanya Levida Govender from Merebank will represent South Africa at the Miss Teenager Universe pageant in Indonesia in September.

The 15-year-old beat contestants from around the country to be crowned Miss Teenager Universe South Africa.

The Grade 10 pupil of Merebank Secondary School said her first taste of the stage came at the age of 7 when her dad, Sagren, introduced her to modelling, and her first pageant was Little Miss India in 2018.

“My dad thought it would boost my self-confidence because I was very shy and afraid of being around crowds. I enrolled in a modelling school and realised this could be a career for me.

“I was then inspired by watching Miss South Africa. I hope to one day be someone that can express myself through the voice and talents I have.”

Lavanya credits her family for her success. Her mom, Portia, is a hairdresser and her dad is a spiritual leader at an NGO.

“My parents and sister Tarika have been amazing and wonderful in every way possible. They are extremely hard-working and have been a great pillar of strength to me. They have made tremendous sacrifices to allow me to be the best version of myself. This is the reason I am who I am today.”

She said her community work and giving a voice to young girls were two reasons she did pageants.

“I support a NGO called Save the Dignity of our School Girls. I distribute sanitary towels to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I strongly believe nothing must hinder a girl’s focus on her education.

“I advocate for women and children empowerment and believe we all have the wings to fly. Have faith in the journey, believe in yourself, never allow anyone to discourage you, be the voice that stands up and is prepared to take calculated chances.”

She said 87 contestants from different provinces had vied for the crown.

“Every girl was talented and beautiful. I built a lasting bond of sisterhood from this journey and was delighted to come back home with the crown.

“I will represent my beautiful country on the global platform in Indonesia and I pray I make everyone proud.”

Lavanya hopes to inspire young women to follow their dreams.

“Having a dream is one thing, making it a reality is where the test is measured. We all have the ability to turn our dreams into a reality: prayer, hard work, dedication and determination are what lead to victory and success.”

Independent on Saturday

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