Matapa thrilled over her first overseas trip

Miss Earth South Africa Matapa Maila. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 14/10/2008. © Sowetan
Miss Earth South Africa Matapa Maila. Pic. Veli Nhlapo. 14/10/2008. © Sowetan

Nomzamo Mashiloane

Nomzamo Mashiloane

Miss Earth South Africa, Matapa Maila was over the moon yesterday as she prepared to fly to the Phillipines for a month for the Miss Earth pageant.

"I am so happy, it is unbelievable that I will be overseas for the first time in my life."

The 23-year-old University of South Africa part-time student from GaMothapo in Limpopo was bidding farewell to the media at Johannesburg Zoo yesterday.

"This is a great honour and privilege that not everyone gets, and I am thankful that I got this opportunity," a jubilant Maila, pictured, said.

Coming from a humble background and raised by a single parent, her mother, Maila said she was happy to represent the country.

The pageant has been taking place in the country for the past five years, while it has been running globally for the past eight years. Sponsored by Consol, the pageant was created to highlight the role of young women in the present global crisis and the destruction of the environment.

Since she won the title in June, beating 16 other hopefuls, she has been going around the country spreading the message of environmental awareness.

She has been conducting workshops, planting trees and was involved in the rehabilitation of penguins with the SA Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

Her best moment was when she joined former president Nelson Mandela to plant trees in Soweto during Arbour Week last month.

"It was fun teaching pupils how to care for the environment and meeting people who care about our earth," she said.