United States-based Zimbabwean beauty queen, Natalie Catherine Mushore, who is set to represent the country at the annual Miss Africa – United States in Maryland on August 18, has appealed to her countrymen to vote for her so she would also land the Miss Africa-USA People’s Princess crown.

The title will be won by the contestant with the highest number of thumbs up on their profile on the pageant’s website, missafricausa.org.

Mushore told NewsDay Life & Style on Friday that winning the main pageant will help facilitate her efforts to empower children at the Centre for Total Transformation in Zvimba district.

“My goal is to ensure that 500 children have classrooms, toilets and other necessary infrastructure that will enable them to thrive and unravel their highest and most genuine expression of themselves,” she said.

Mushore said lending the children a helping hand will ensure that they are emancipated from poverty.

The pageant, which has this year attracted representatives from 18 countries, enables young African women based in the US to shine the spotlight on Africa, tell their stories to the world, inspire one another and build self-esteem.

The Zimbabwean model said although this is her first pageant, it presented her with the opportunity to showcase her homeland to the world.

“I am humbled and honoured to be representing my country at this pageant, especially because our country is not well-represented in the United States. We are overshadowed by more populous and influential nations such as Nigeria. I want to take this as an opportunity to showcase Zimbabwean culture on a prestigious global platform,” she said.

Unlike traditional pageants, this particular contest does not disqualify contestants based on height and weight, but focuses more on grooming a new generation of African women leaders that will impact their communities regardless of their physical looks.

“I am unique in the sense that I am not a stereotypical model… I am naturally very curvy unlike most beauty queens and models,” she said, adding that participating in the pageant allows her to demonstrate the elegance, beauty and intelligence of Zimbabwean women.

The 22-year-old said she discovered her passion for modelling and performing arts at a tender age, although her participation in the modelling industry was limited because her parents encouraged formal education.

She expressed gratitude to her manager, Hazel Mawele-Mushore, Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2011 Lisa Morgan and her designer Tapfumanei Munengi for their support.

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