By JOYCE INGIPA
MISS PNG Leoshina Kariha says it has been an honour to serve her country as she prepares to hand over her reign at the end of this month.
“I’m looking forward to handing over the crown to the next sister who I am sure will bring the level up again,” Leoshina told The National after an event last week.
“It gives us an opportunity to be role models to young PNG women and encourage them to stand up for what is right. It was an honour serving the country.”
The 19-year-old woman from Kerei village near Arawa in Bougainville of Bougainville and Central background relinquishes her Miss Pacifc Islands title in November in Port Moresby.
She is the eldest of four children in the family and only female. Her brothers are William, 17, Henry 10 and Zebediah 8.
Her father Henry, from Bougainville, is a businessman and her mother Rosemary, who is part Yule Island and Kanusia, is a teacher.
Her mother was a teacher at the Ela Murray International School for 27 years, a bonus for her to attend that schoo.
She attended Marianville Secondary and then Divine Word University where she did PNG studies and international relations.
While at university, Leoshina entered the Miss Madang Pageant as Miss Diwai Enterprises, a Divine Word University-owned company. She won that contest last year and hasn’t looked back since.
She told The National earlier that being crowned Miss Pacific in Tonga, also last year, was an overwhelming experience considering all the hard work that went on behind the scene.
“It’s a big role, I felt honoured to formally take over the crown to represent the Pacific region,”she said.
“I was the youngest contestant when I won the title at 18 and they trusted me to take on the responsibility.
Kariha said the Miss Pacific Islands PNG pageant was not only a beauty pageant but a platform to groom young women.
She said the pageant gave women a voice in the community.
Gender-based violence is an issue Kariha doesn’t hold back on.
“In our country we face a lot of challenges in the area of gender-based violence.
“Two out of three women in the country and region face issues of gender-based violence, an area that we are still working on.
“We need to create a platform to reach out to our women because they are the most marginalised.
Kariha said the pageant also empowered women through education.
“It gives women, who normally don’t have the opportunity to go to school because of financial constraints, an opportunity.”
“They are given this opportunity through the scholarship grants provided by the platform.”
Kariha puts her faith in God and she starts the day in what she believes in.
“My day starts in the morning with the devotion which prepares me spiritually, and mentally.
“Then physically I undergo exercise three days a week.
Kariha is also the head chaperone for the six women who are vying for this year’s crown.
They are Miss PNG Air Services Helen Ipauki, Miss Jacks Madang Lavianna Leong, Miss Sanctuary and Rapopo Resort Natasha Metta, Miss East New Britain (Frangipani) Ellen Morgan, Miss Paga Hill Estate Lucy Maino and Miss IBS Magarita Sariman
“I’m just helping them in personal development and getting them prepared for the pageant,” Kariha said.
Her message to this year’s contestants:
“Put God first in everything because without him you cannot fulfill anything in life, always stay grounded in your roots, remember the people who have always been behind you and be yourself.”
By JOYCE INGIPA