Miss Earth finalist passionate about community outreach

Pictured, from left, are Chrizaan Crous, Kea and Carli Brand, Gabrielle and Kina van der Watt and Ilchen Retief.

Armed with gloves and rubbish bags, Miss Earth finalist Gabrielle van der Watt, of Durbanville, and a small group of friends and family went on a clean-up in Fisantekraal on Saturday August 20.

Ms Van der Watt, 20, said she wanted to make “a continuous effort” in the area, helping residents with their own ideas to build the community from within.

“With this, we can bridge the gap between underprivileged and middle-class communities, ” she said.

The group filled 12 bags with rubbish in just over an hour.

The Miss Earth theme for this year is “Waste Stops With Me”, and Ms Van der Watt believes clean-ups raise awareness about the impact of waste on the environment.

Durbanville sisters, Carli and Kea Brand, who joined the clean-up, said every initiative, no matter how small, could bring change.

“I am really excited to help out, while bridging the gap between various communities,” said Carli.

“I believe that if you are blessed, you should be a blessing. If you have, give. And that is why I am here today,” said Kea.

Ms Van der Watt said she had started out in community development projects from a very young age.

“I got involved with animal shelters and volunteered on weekends wherever I could. I remember begging my parents to just ‘go look’ at the dogs, hoping to bring a little stray home or simply just spend time helping out.”

At the beginning of the year, she heard about Miss Earth South Africa.

“I saw an opportunity for me to meet like-minded individuals, who shared the same goals as me, individuals seeking to make a difference within our environment and surrounding communities,” she said.

Her mother, Kina van der Watt, is very proud of her daughter and what she has achieved.

“She really wants to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others and their communities. Gabrielle has a passion for life and people. The competition is about so much more than beauty, but about making a difference while raising awareness on different issues.”

Ms Van der Watt met the other Cape Town contestants in May, marking the official start of her Miss Earth journey. She has worked on several projects, including environmental education for the youth,vegetable gardens and beach clean-ups.

There are 16 South African Miss Earth finalists, and Ms Van Watt is one of two representing Cape Town.

All the national finalists will take part in the gala week at Monte Casino, in Johannesburg, from Sunday September 4 to Friday September 9.

Miss Earth South Africa will be crowned on Thursday September 8 and will go on to represent the country in Miss Earth World.