BULLYING SPURS TEEN INTO PAGEANTRY AND GOOD WORKS
At just 13 years of age, Wendy Motlhabane’s self assuredness is impressive.
The standard seven pupil at Phillip Moshotle Memorial School joins scores of learners across the country sitting for their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) and is confident she will pass with flying colors.
“I have studied diligently and trust I will ace the exams.” she says confidently.
Motlhabane like many young people has had her fair share of doubts but brushes them off as learning curves that helped to build her rather than destroy her strong character.
It was not long ago that the spunky young lady felt out of sorts at the hands of school bullies.
“I had become a target and although I initially tried to ignore it, it impacted me negatively. I was extremely self aware at school. My self confidence was eroded as other kids especially boys would tease me citing how my teeth were so big. I became the subject of their ridicule and it hurt. Although a bright student, Motlhabane admits to being self conscious from the bullying. “It made it hard to enjoy going to school and being myself.”
Luckily Motlhabane confided in her mother who then suggested the stage.
“My mother Khumo suggested I did pageantry. Initially it didn’t make sense how putting myself out there could boost my confidence and somehow abate the bullying but it did.”
Speaking as a matter of fact Motlhabane points out that not only did her self esteem get a boost but she got to think less of the bullying.
“I had reported to my teacher and though the boys would get called out on their bad behavior, they still continued. I took my mother’s advise to try not personalize everything that was said to me. After all when people are nasty to you it is really a reflection of how they feel about themselves,”she says.
Tough as it may have been, alongside her love for maths and science, the young lady embraced the new world of pageantry.
“Though I have come to enjoy the frills of pageantry and surprised myself at doing so well at it, it does not replace my love for academics.”
Motlhabane went on to be crowned Miss Hope 2018.
“Hope pageant is a Christian based organization that uplifts and enhances young ladies to be more involved in community projects and activities.”
Impressed with her win, Motlhabane shares that she has since become somewhat of a role model to her peers.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to remind others of their worth and that no one has a right to put any one down. People project their own insecurities and ignorance through bullying.” she adds. She goes on to say; “It is important to not pay bullies any attention lest they get to you.” She giggles.
“I walk with my head held high and know that I am as deserving of good things as others.”
Those who bully others don’t realize the long lasting damage they can cause.
No one wants to go to school every day to be told they are ugly and be subjected to all kinds of ridicule.
Apart from one’s confidence taking a knock, bullying leads to absenteeism and loss of interest in school and other activities.
A bright and vibrant learner may retreat into a shell and have their grades suffer.
It can also have dire circumstances where one may be overwhelmed by ill feelings and think self harm is a way out. She cautions.
Although Motlhabane reported to her teachers and the bullies were called out, she says this never deterred them long enough to stop the despicable behaviour.
It is sad how some children are made to feel bad about themselves. It is wrong and must be strongly condemned.
Since she was crowned Miss Hope, the bullying has ceased.
“It is as if I am a celebrity. There’s a positive vibe everywhere I go now. My school mates, both boys and girls are quiet encouraging.”
It is this reception that Motlhabane wants to take advantage of and address some of the subjects close to her heart.
As her project following her crowning, she wishes to raise awareness and spread love to the special care children in Ledumang primary school.
“It is important not to discriminate and this is a value HOPE embodies and encourages”.
Although Motlhabane is excited about the project, due to financial constraints her initial project has had to take the backseat.
“I hope to someday cultivate an orchard at school and plant trees in my community. I have asthma and the project is meant to promote clean air and sensitize others on the importance of plants and trees,” says Motlhabane who wants to be a scientist one day inspired by her admiration for German mathematician and physicist, Albert Einstein.
“Science is life. I want to build a legacy just like my idol, Albert Einstein and most importantly be an example to girls that we too can dominate male dominated fields.”
Motlhabane is determined to start her Ledumang Primary school project soon as it will be part of the assessment criteria (judging) during the upcoming Hope pageant she wishes to participate in.
“The pageant will have 35 contestants from other regions and will be hosted in CapeTown, South Africa this December. I know I stand a good chance hence it is my dream to go.”
The young lady who had so far been animated in sharing her story, settles and assumes a more serious tone when pleading for support.
“Pageantry is costly and it would be great to receive support. Apart from the travel and associated costs, there are outfits needed for the pageant. Any form of assistance would be appreciated,” she says in conclusion