Lauretta Charles hails from Uturu, in Isuikwuato local government area of Abia State. The first daughter of Mr and Mrs Charles Effe; a graduate of English, from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, and the chief executive officer (CEO) of Glam Slam Vision, organizers of Miss Heart of Nigeria beauty pageant. In this interview with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM, She speaks on sundry issues.

Since you started this show, how has the reception been like for you?
The reception has been exceptionally warm and impressive. It really showed that people are willing to embrace a new wave of pageantry that is focused on humanity and devoid of indecency.

Tell us about yourself and how you came about this concept (Miss Heart)?
I am a focused and result-oriented lady that is always striving for excellence in all I do. Miss Heart is simply a product of passion. I have an insatiable passion to continually add value to humanity to create a positive difference. Consequently, Miss Heart was created as a platform for the realization of this passion.

How is Miss Heart different from other pageant shows?
Miss Heart of Nigeria is human faced. It focuses on humanity and development. As the country is gradually winning the war on terrorism, Miss Heart is coming on board to win the peace through pageantry as it is a unifying factor. At Miss Heart, youngsters are mentored to become change agents, to be patriotic and responsible.

Why did you choose Miss Heart out of many other names?
“Heart” symbolizes love and kindness which are the core concepts and key drivers of my pageantry. “Miss Heart” therefore aptly depicts the person behind these attributes and was consequently adopted as the preferred name.

Would you say that the humanitarian need of the country motivated you to go into this project?
Absolutely! The country has plunged into several ethno-religious crises and government is overwhelmed to an extent. It is therefore timely for good spirited individuals to rise to the occasion of assisting in humanitarian endeavors. It is on this premise that my motivation thrives.

How can Miss Heart help in the unity of Nigeria and the Africa sub-region?
The activities of Miss Heart are non-tribal and non-religious; there is mutual respect for people’s inclination. It therefore creates unity through its programs by emphasizing areas of collective strengths rather than areas of weakness thereby fostering unity. It has the intension of exporting these ideals to the Africa sub-region to achieve same.

How is your project funded, do you partner organizations?
Of course, we partner with organizations that are passionate about humanity, and that has been our greatest strength. For the records, we partner with Masters Energy, Airtel, Cool Fm, Community of Sant Egidio, Leadership Newspapers, among others. As a matter of fact, they have been of tremendous support to the growth of the organization.

Is it true that some girls are forced into prostitution to raise funds for the pageantry?
Well, you know in every twelve there is a Judah. However, at Miss Heart it’s a different ball game. Nobody is forced into any act of obscenity to get fame. As a matter of fact, our form is the cheapest in the country. The essence is to make these youngsters to be the best they can be and become responsible. To further rub it in, there are no bikinis or night gowns in our pageantry. This, we believe will reduce unnecessary spending on the part of the contestants as well as prevent the contestants from engaging in any act of immorality in a bid to stay afloat.

Where do you see this organization in the next two years?
In the next two years I see Miss Heart winning the heart of most Nigerians and becoming a household name. Interestingly, the just concluded first phase of the audition in Kano last week is a confirmation that Miss Heart has come to stay. It was impressive, I Must confess. As I said earlier, the response has been impressive, a clear sign that the future is bright for Miss Heart as it is designed to redefine beauty pageantry in the Nigeria and by extension the world at large. Its focuses on humanism, and volunteering makes it unique. At Miss Heart, youngsters are groomed to be care givers and compassionate. Influenced by this mindset, they tend to carry it along with them to the society.

Advice
Young girls should see themselves as game changers and agents of change in the male dominated world. They should believe in themselves and shouldn’t feel intimated by their counterparts. They should not look for the shortest cut to success; success entails long suffering, determination and relying on God which ultimately lead to a happy ending. I came from a humble family and today am using my platform to give hope to the hopeless in the society and that for me, is the beauty of life.