Johannesburg - What do Miss South Africa title holders Rolene Strauss, Ade van Heerden, Tamaryn Green and Thato Mosehle all have in common?
Aside from their good looks and their Miss SA titles, all four ladies are medical doctors.
In the last five years, it hasn’t been uncommon to find a qualified doctor in and among the Top 30 contestants for the Miss South Africa title.
In some instances, doctors have made it into the Top 5, while a few others have walked away with the crown, with some going even further and winning on the international stage.
This year South Africa could crown yet another doctor in the prestigious beauty pageant with two doctors making it to the Top 30 in the Miss SA competition.
Among them are Dr Ferini Dayal and Dr Moratwe Masima, who are both hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous winners.
Dayal hails from Kensington South in Johannesburg, and has a biomedical sciences degree, majoring in physiology, and a Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery degree – both from the University of Witwatersrand.
After a two-year internship at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the 26-year-old is now a community service doctor in Vosloorus at Thelle Mogoerane Hospital.
Masima also hails from Johannesburg and is based in Atholl in Sandton. The 24-year-old is a qualified medical doctor doing her first year of internship at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. She is an aspiring plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
The Saturday Star caught up with the two doctors to get their take on why they think doctors do so well in the Miss SA competition.
They also give us insight into what it is like to be a doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic and how they would make a difference should they be crowned Miss South Africa this year in October.
Why do medical doctors do so well in the Miss SA competition?
“It’s a calling in your life path… for me specifically in my childhood, and that calling grows into a passion. It allows you to excel in all aspects of life which incrementally helps you to contribute to the good of others and society in general.
“When you enter the medical world as a student, moving forward to your training years and soldiering through your junior doctor years, as a consequence to the exposures you endure in medicine, ranging from the effects of poverty, abuse, rape, violence, death, the financial burdens and failures we carry as a system, the social strain of unemployment and the vicious cycle of all these aspects on our people’s mental health, you mature as a person.
“These exposures not only mould you as a doctor, but push you to grow and prepare you to tackle the challenges of society. This, I think, is why women in medicine become so successful on this platform as they finally reach the point of being holistically equipped to fulfil the needs lacking in humanity.
I think that in order to be a doctor you need to embody certain qualities that make you the best type of person to serve people. Being a doctor requires tenacity and compassion as well as a burning desire for change. I believe that it is exactly what makes the transition between Miss South Africa and the medical profession easier. Being a Miss South Africa requires you to champion for people’s rights and make a change in the community.
Is there anything about the profession that helps with becoming Miss SA or a finalist?
Dayal: “We don’t surround ourselves in a flawless society with flawless measures in dealing with issues, but we come together as doctors, we exchange ideas, we debate and we consolidate in a world and free society and it’s for one purpose, to serve our people and our future generations to come.
“These challenges go beyond the books and practical aspects of medicine and broaden life skills such as standing up for yourself, challenging ideas, having the power and knowledge to have scientifically based speech on topics that have actual impact on society and humanity in positive ways. Medicine is an art, and as in all arts you discover and appreciate the beauty of life and everything it comes with.”
Masima: “From the moment you walk into medical school to the point of taking the Hippocratic Oath, we vow to serve people and to make use of our skills and talents to make a change. This helps in entering a competition like Miss South Africa because we know our ‘Why’ and know that we have the power to advocate for our patient’s rights and tackle the social ills they face.”
What impact has the Covid 19 pandemic had on you and your work?
Dayal: “Overwhelmed, under-resourced, unstaffed and overworked is not a new experience we face as doctors… it is how we have dealt with epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, trauma, mental health, drug abuse, domestic violence, rape, teenage pregnancy, period poverty and these are of the few of many of issues facing our people today. I have always been prepared. I have become braver, more open minded and knowingly broadened my knowledge aimed at first and foremost, doing no harm. This will forever remain my morality and I shall continue to serve my people.”
Masima: “I have been a doctor for about six months and I have already witnessed the burnout and the despair that healthcare workers experience as a result of Covid-19. We fear for our lives but we also know that if we weren’t there to fight one of the biggest pandemics of our lifetime, who would save humanity?”
Would being crowned Miss SA during a pandemic take away any shine from holding the title?
Dayal: “It would be an honour regardless of the current affairs of our country, but especially during this dire state that we are in. I’d be privileged to be given an opportunity to make a difference in these desperate times. I stand proudly with the people of my country and to be blessed with an empowerment such as this crown would be a moment in time for me to pay my dues.”
Masima: “No. I think that in the current state it is imperative that we have voices in healthcare through a platform like Miss South Africa and to use it as a way to spread the message to South Africans about Covid-19 and its ramifications but also to be a beacon of hope as we fight against the virus.”
If you were crowned the winner of Miss SA how would you go about making a difference?
Dayal: “It is unfortunate that health has currently become so politicised. But it is my role as an advocate for health to remind everybody that although there is a role in politics to govern certain aspects of health and health regulations, there has always been a history of flaws in the system.
“We have always battled epidemics and we truly lack appropriate support. We are suffering a crisis and I am determined to make a difference. My primary role as a Miss South Africa would be to open the floor for transparency and discussion over these crucial matters and to promote open debates on challenging ideas. We must go beyond the strategies offered to date, open our minds and always remember that medicine has always been about progress.”
Masima: “Being a medical doctor allows me the privilege and opportunity to interact with and contribute to the change of people’s lives daily. I would drive my reach even further than I could have. I want to advocate for women empowerment and their health, specifically focusing on the advancement of reproductive health, vaccination and screening programs to a multitude of preventable diseases in Africa.
“My goal is to use Miss SA as a stepping stone to work with UN women and the WHO to advocate for women’s health across Africa.”